One of our reasons for coming to Chile was to visit wineries, so we set off to visit the two that do not require advance reservations. Our first stop, Balduzzi vineyards, was easy. The visitor center and tasting room is not far off the main north south highway (Ruta 5). We had a tour with two young men from Montreal who spoke English and French, and ended with a tasting of four wines. We bought a bottle of the sauvignon blanc that we tasted, and a bottle of a very good red that were not offered as part of the tasting.
Not every vineyard was as easy to find:
After picnic lunch by the side of the road–it was so hot by now (1 pm) that we ate in the car with the A/C running. Rested and refreshed, we set off for the Gilmore vineyard. We had a dot on a large map and a sketch map on the Gilmore brochure. Once we found the turnoff for Concepcion, the rest was easy, follow the road to km marker 20 and there it is. We did not tour or taste, because Gilmore has a very nice shop with local crafts, yarn, and wine from the winery, but they do not offer tasting. We bought a very intriguing mermaid created from colored and twined horsehair–creative and a good Christmas tree ornament. Most horsehair work in Chile consists of geometric patterned items such as earrings or hair clips.
Jonathan did purchase a bottle of wine and we asked whether there were any other wineries along the road toward Concepcion. The young woman in the shop told us that the J. Bouchon winery was 10 km further down the road and very well marked. Since we spent relatively little time at Gilmore we decided to visit Bouchon.
“Well marked” seems to be a relative term. We drove along expecting a sign “J. Bouchon”, or maybe even more than one sign, after all, it was “well marked”. When we had gone another 20 km without sighting anything, we noticed that we had entered an area of pine plantations, and there were no vineyards visible along the road.
Wondering where we’d gone wrong, we turned back. At the 10 km marker we looked at an intersection, but there was no sign.
Note that the last words are “J. Bouchon y Cia.” And that wasn’t the end of the road by any means. It wound around and up and down with little evidence of vines.
Not at all. J. Bouchon has rental rooms/villas and a large facility, but we didn’t see any people. We found a gardener who directed us toward the back of the corrugated metal building off to one side of the residential zone. Emerging from it we met a young man who was beginning a tour with a pair of young Canadians and their 3 month-old. We joined them. Though J. Bouchon doesn’t offer tours, he was giving us one anyway. We would not be able to taste anything, but could purchase wine at a 20% discount. Though we’ve now been through the winery tour several times, this one was distinguished by the fact that a truckload of machine-harvested chardonnay grapes had just come from the field and we could see it unloaded and sent through the sorter.
Another load, or several, had already come in, because there was already a dump truck full of the material that was strained out of the grapes: stems, seeds, skins.
This brown mass is used as animal feed (put in a silo first) rather than composted or sold.
We had a wonderful tour at a place that claimed not to give tours, and our Canadian companions were delightful, including 3 month old Quinn.
Our purchase from J. Bouchon: