Eat local: Patrimonial farmhouse luncheon, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

We were welcomed by the owner’s son at a “patrimonial farm house” in Chiloé’s rich agricultural heartland, the Rilán Peninsula, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

We were welcomed by the owner’s son at a “patrimonial farm house” in Chiloé’s rich agricultural heartland, the Rilán Peninsula, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

After our chef’s guided visit to the local farmers’ market in Castro, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile, a small group of us visited a “patrimonial farm house” in Chiloé’s rich agricultural heartland, the Rilán Peninsula, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile, for a tour and luncheon featuring local food and drinks. At the farm we learned about traditional methods and local customs.

The farmhouse we visited was in the style of traditional German architecture, built from local alerce wood, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

The farmhouse we visited was in the style of traditional German architecture, built from local alerce wood, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

All of the woodworking on the farm is picturesque, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

All of the woodworking on the farm is picturesque, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

We toured the farm’s vegetable gardens, fields and orchard (pictured), Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

We toured the farm’s vegetable gardens, fields and orchard (pictured), Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

Portrait of the 95 year-old founder of the farm who thrived in the area by being the first to divert the nearby river into irrigation channels, Rilán Peninsula, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

Portrait of the 95 year-old founder of the farm who thrived in the area by being the first to divert the nearby river into irrigation channels, Rilán Peninsula, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

The owner’s son explained to us that his dad (with whom we had cocktails) was a pioneer on the peninsula when, decades ago, to solve the perennial problem of a lack of sufficient water to farm the land, he got permission and dug the first diversion channels (“canals”) from the nearby river. This gave him water not only for irrigation, but also for turning a water wheel which gave him hydroelectricity.  With electric power, he was able to turn the front of the farmhouse into the local dry goods store and remain open after sunset with electric lighting.  The patriarch and his family took the ferry boat to Puerto Montt on the mainland once a month to purchase the supplies and stock for his general store.  After our luncheon we had a chance to see the store (preserved now as a museum) and read old accounting ledgers.

Outer farm buildings and one of the irrigation channels dug decades ago by the founder, Rilán Peninsula, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

Outer farm buildings and one of the irrigation channels dug decades ago by the founder, Rilán Peninsula, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

 

After our tour of the farm we were welcomed on the farmhouse porch with wine and juices, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

After our tour of the farm we were welcomed on the farmhouse porch with wine and juices, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

The smokehouse where meats and fish are smoked for consumption on the farm (and served to guests), Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

The smokehouse where meats and fish are smoked for consumption on the farm (and served to guests), Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

Home-smoked local salmon and homemade cheese as appetizers with the variety of drinks, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

Home-smoked local salmon and homemade cheese as appetizers with the variety of drinks, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

The owner’s son pouring delicious ulmo sours (Pisco sours sweetened with the syrup of a tree native to the south of Chile), Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

The owner’s son pouring delicious ulmo sours (Pisco sours sweetened with the syrup of a tree native to the south of Chile), Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

A platter of broiled Chilean hake (fish) being prepared for our luncheon in the farmhouse’s dining room, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

A platter of broiled Chilean hake (fish) being prepared for our luncheon in the farmhouse’s dining room, Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

At the end of our visit we found out that we had been quite fortunate in scheduling this trip, as the farm only hosts two or three small groups each year.  In addition to the farm being recompensed for the tour and hospitality, we were pleased to learn that a portion of our destination experience fees were donated to the local native farmers.

 

Our luncheon’s main dish was a traditional Chilean outdoor firepit “boil” with seafood (mussels, clams), fish, bread, sausage, pork, and local potatoes; Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

Our luncheon’s main dish was a traditional Chilean outdoor fire pit “boil” with seafood (mussels, clams), fish, bread, sausage, pork, and local potatoes; Chiloé Island, Patagonia, Chile

 

Eat local: Morning food market in Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Palafito houses at high tide, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Palafito houses at high tide, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Our ship anchored in the bay at Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Our ship anchored in the bay at Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

We joined a local chef for a morning walk trough, tasting and shopping at the local market in Castro, Chile, on Chiloé Island. In addition to seeing some really fresh produce, fish and seafood, we had the opportunity to learn about some local culinary traditions.

We bought several bags of these local Chilean potatoes for our kitchen at the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

We bought several bags of these local Chilean potatoes for our kitchen at the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

We found out that Charles Darwin made note of the hundreds of potato varieties grown on Chiloé Island during a visit in 1834.  Recent genetic studies confirm that the island is the original source of 90% of all potatoes grown around the world!  The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) declared Chiloé a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (SIPAM in Spanish) in 2012, recognizing the sometimes unusual ancestral farming methods still used by Chiloétes (as locals are called) today.

At the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile, we bought fresh fish filets that made an excellent dinner on board that evening

At the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile, we bought fresh fish filets that made an excellent dinner on board that evening

All the fish at the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile, was fresh and hand filleted by the fishmonger

All the fish at the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile, was fresh and hand filleted by the fishmonger

Homemade ceviche at the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Homemade ceviche at the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

 

At the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile, we bought a 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) bag of locally farmed mussels that were great steamed for lunch and, separtely, made a terrific sauce for our fish fillets for dinner

At the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile, we bought a 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) bag of locally farmed mussels that were great steamed for lunch and, separtely, made a terrific sauce for our fish fillets for dinner

 

At the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile, we were able to buy "tastes" of local uni (sea urchin) that is a rare treat (usually very expensive when imported from Japan in sushi restaurants and specialty stores)

At the morning food market in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile, we were able to buy “tastes” of local uni (sea urchin) that is a rare treat (usually very expensive when imported from Japan in sushi restaurants and specialty stores)

“Uni (oo-nee) is the Japanese name for the edible part of the Sea Urchin. While colloquially referred to as the roe (eggs), uni is actually the animal’s gonads (which produce the milt or roe). Uni ranges in color from rich gold to light yellow, and has a creamy consistency that some love and is off-putting to others. It is nevertheless one sushi item that is in incredible demand around the world, which is reflected in its price. Sea Urchins are a rare treat for those who acquire a taste.” — http://www.sushifaq.com 

Scenic Chiloé Island, Chile

Scenic Chiloé Island, Chile

 

Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Mussel and salmon farming in Patagonia as we approach Chiloe Island, southwest of Puerton Montt, Chile

Mussel and salmon farming in Patagonia as we approach Chiloé Island, southwest of Puerton Montt, Chile

Castro sits centrally located on the island of Chiloé, which, if it weren’t separated by Canal Chacao, would be a continuation of Chile’s mainland coastal range. It is southwest of our previous port, Puerto Montt (and the nearby Puerto Varas), at the northern end of Chilean Patagonia.

A lone fishing boat heading out from Castro, Chiloe Island (Patagonia), Chile

A lone fishing boat heading out from Castro, Chiloé Island (Patagonia), Chile

On the island’s 90 miles (160 km) length, there are over 60 churches, of which 16 are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national monuments! Combining Christian and pagan elements, the cathedrals stand out for their eye-popping color combinations – see our photograph of Iglesia San Francisco de Castro, below. Along Castro’s coast are the famed rows of timber stilt houses known as palafitos.

The picturesque Iglesia San Francisco de Castro (cathedral), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a designated Chilean National Monument, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

The picturesque Iglesia San Francisco de Castro (cathedral), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a designated Chilean National Monument, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

On the north end of the Plaza de Armas in downtown Castro stands the picturesque, visually intriguing church that is an UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a designated Chilean National Monument. Designed in a neo-gothic style by Italian architect Eduardo Provasoli, the church was constructed with native woods by local carpenters. It was completed in 1912 to replace an earlier church that had been destroyed. Along with its golden yellow façade and violet accents, the cathedral is notable for its exquisite interior woodwork showcased in the arches, ceiling and altars.

Dried locally caught smoked mussels and clams for sale in the local farmers' market, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Dried locally caught smoked mussels and clams for sale in the local farmers’ market, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Local cows' cheese (quite tasty!) for sale in the local farmers' market, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Local cows’ cheese (quite tasty!) for sale in the local farmers’ market, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

One of many knitters with warm woolen sweaters and scarves for sale in the local farmers' market, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

One of many knitters with warm woolen sweaters and scarves for sale in the local farmers’ market, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Half-painted old building in downtown Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Half-painted old building in downtown Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

Palafito houses, precarious but picturesque timber houses on stilts, in the Mar y Canela, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Palafito houses, precarious but picturesque timber houses on stilts, in the Mar y Canela, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

For over three hundred years, Chiloé Island was isolated from mainland Chile owing to the fierce resistance of the mainland native Mapuche to European colonists.  Therefore, the slow pace of island life saw little change.  As a result, Castro is one of the few places in the country where palafito houses can still be seen.  Palafitos are precarious but picturesque timber houses on stilts.  They were once the traditional dwellings of most of the fishermen of southern Chile, found throughout South America since pre-Columbian times.  In the late 19th century, numerous palafitos were built in Chilean cities such as Castro and are now considered a typical element of Chilotan architecture in towns in the Chiloé Archipelago.

Artesania Restaurante, in one of the Palafito houses, where we had a delicious of local cuisine, Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile

Artesania Restaurante, in one of the Palafito houses, where we had a delicious of local cuisine, Castro, Chiloé Island, Chile

 

Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas (on Lago Llanquihue), Patagonia, Chile

The main town square, Plaza de Armas, in Puerto Varas, Chile, about one block from beautiful Lago Llanquihue

The main town square, Plaza de Armas, in Puerto Varas, Chile, about one block from beautiful Lago Llanquihue

At the culmination of our four days of traveling through the Chilean winelands south of Santiago (see previous blog posts), we drove back to Santiago and flew south to the ship’s first port of call in Patagonia – Puerto Montt.

Puerto Montt is a port city with a population of 175,000 in southern Chile, located at the northern end of the Reloncaví Sound in the Llanquihue Province, Los Lagos Region, 655 miles (1,055 km) south of the capital, Santiago.  It is at the northern end of the Patagonia region of Chile on the Pacific Coast and serves as a gateway to Western Patagonia. 

The city was founded on February 12, 1853, after government-sponsored immigration from Germany that began in 1848 populated the region and integrated it politically to the rest of the country.  It was named after Manuel Montt, President of Chile between 1851 and 1861, who set in motion the German immigration.  The government’s goal was to begin populating the southern region of the country (Patagonia) in order to maintain sovereignty, as Argentina and other foreign countries set their sights on taking over the unpopulated and undeveloped region.

Today the region is well known for its salmon farming – Chile is the second largest producer of salmon in the world, not withstanding the aquaculture crisis in the late 2000s that nearly wiped out the Chilean salmon farming industry. Hatcheries, fisheries and packing plants are mostly located south of Puerto Montt in Patagonia.

Modern hotels overlooking Lago Llanquihue, including the Gran Hotel Colonos del Sur, Puerto Varas, Chile

Modern hotels overlooking Lago Llanquihue, including the Gran Hotel Colonos del Sur, Puerto Varas, Chile

We decided to spend our day there exploring a smaller town, Puerto Varas, on the southern end of Lago Llanquihue, about 12 miles (20 km) north of Puerto Montt.  The tourism gem of Puerto Varas is graced with superb views (obscured on the day of our visit by the low rain clouds) of the Osorno volcano and Mt. Calbuco, just across the beautiful and serene Lago Llanquihue (Chile’s second largest lake).  It is home to a casino, many restaurants, and several cultural heritage sites.  Puerto Varas is probably best known as an outdoor adventure sports destination, great for kayaking, climbing, fishing, hiking, and skiing (on the slopes of the nearby Osorno volcano).  The town, like Puerto Montt, reflects a heavy German cultural influence, with approximately 80% of the school children coming from families with a German heritage.

The view to the northeast from town of Lago Llanquihue, Puerto Varas, Chile

The view to the northeast from town of Lago Llanquihue, Puerto Varas, Chile

A retired sailor now well known as the town's leading model ship maker, Puerto Varas, Chile

A retired sailor now well known as the town’s leading model ship maker, Puerto Varas, Chile

Recommended by a local guide, Casa Valdes served outstanding fresh seafood for a great lunch overlooking Lago Llanquihue, Puerto Varas, Chile

Recommended by a local guide, Casa Valdes served outstanding fresh seafood for a great lunch overlooking Lago Llanquihue, Puerto Varas, Chile

Beautiful hand woven blankets at the Fundacion Artesanías de Chile crafts store, Puerto Varas, Chile

Beautiful hand woven blankets at the Fundacion Artesanías de Chile crafts store, Puerto Varas, Chile

Fundacion Artesanías de Chile commercializes handcrafted pieces on a non-profit basis. Purchases at their shops support Chilean craftsmen to improve their living conditions and to preserve Chilean cultural heritage. (see: http://www.artesaniasdechile.cl)

A small classical female guitar player pottery figurine from the artisans of Quinchamalí at the Fundacion Artesanías de Chile crafts store, Puerto Varas, Chile

A small classical female guitar player pottery figurine from the artisans of Quinchamalí at the Fundacion Artesanías de Chile crafts store, Puerto Varas, Chile

Quinchamalí is a southern town in Chile where the indigenous past blends in with a peasant tradition of long standing.  In its beginnings, the pottery of Quinchamalí was mostly utilitarian – jugs, vases, pots and plates that were bartered for farm products in surrounding areas. With time, these gave way to more sophisticated items, such as the now classical female guitar player, horsemen and animal figurines and ornaments, all highly polished and profusely decorated with patterns of local flowers, leaves and spikes of wheat.  The pottery of Puerto varas, chiulke bears the personal stamp of its artisans and mirrors both their ancient traditions and daily life.

Locally crafted "dolls" at the Fundacion Artesanías de Chile crafts store, Puerto Varas, Chile

Locally crafted “dolls” at the Fundacion Artesanías de Chile crafts store, Puerto Varas, Chile

Puerto Varas is characterized by traditional German architecture, with houses built from local alerce wood using tools brought over from Europe by the 19th century colonial inhabitants.  It was designated a Zona Típica (heritage zone) in 1992 and has a number of protected buildings.  The alerce tree is the majestic giant conifer of the southern hemisphere and inspires as much awe as its North American relative, the giant sequoia.  The reddish-brown trunk of the alerce can tower up to 200 feet (60 meters) tall.

Puerto Varas is characterized by traditional German architecture, with houses built from local alerce wood, Chile

Puerto Varas is characterized by traditional German architecture, with houses built from local alerce wood, Chile

 

Lapostelle’s Clos Apalta winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Lapostelle's winery (on the left inside the "barrel staves") and the Apalta vineyard which was planted with Carmenère, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah from 1920 to 2006, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Lapostelle’s winery (on the left, inside the “barrel staves”) and the Apalta vineyard, which was planted with Carmenère, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah from 1920 to 2006, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Founded in 1994 by Alexandra Marnier Lapostelle and her husband Cyril de Bournet, of Grand Marnier fame, the architecturally striking winery on the hillside above the Apalta vineyards near Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley, Chile, utilizes age-old French techniques and superb Chilean terroirs to produce world-class wines. The winery is 100% gravity fed spanning six levels, four of which lie beneath the granite Apalta hillside, providing a naturally cool environment for cellaring and aging their wines. Grapes are hand-harvested at night and brought to the highest level of the winery where they will be de-stemmed by hand. Fermentation takes place in small French wooden vats, allowing the winemakers an opportunity to enhance the personality of the various terroir plots. After two years of ageing in two different barrel cellars, the wine is bottled for shipping or joins the underground library in the heart of the winery.

Lapostelle is owned by France's Marnier-Lapostolle group; note that the Marnier Lapostolle family were founders and are owners of the world-renowned liqueur Grand Marnier; Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Lapostelle is owned by France’s Marnier-Lapostolle group; note that the Marnier Lapostolle family were founders and are owners of the world-renowned liqueur Grand Marnier; Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

In the annual review story about Chilean wines in the Wine Spectator, Kim Marcus wrote in the May 31, 2015 issue, “As a source of value-priced reds and whites, Chile is a wine-making juggernaut. It’s a testament to Chile’s development over the past two to three decades that the country can offer dozens of bottlings, including international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, that rival counterparts from California, Australia and elsewhere in the New World. For example, it’s hard to beat the quality-to-price ratio of… a white wine such as Lapostelle’s Chardonnay Casablanca Valley Cuvee Alexandre Atalayas Vineyard 2012 (91 points, US$24), which offers lusciously spiced tropical and white fruit flavors.”

Lapostelle’s Apalta Vineyard is located in the wine-producing region of Colchagua Valley, 42 miles (68 km) away from the Pacific Ocean, between the Andes mountain range and the coastal cordillera, Santa Cruz, Chile

Lapostelle’s Apalta Vineyard is located in the wine-producing region of Colchagua Valley, 42 miles (68 km) away from the Pacific Ocean, between the Andes mountain range and the coastal cordillera, Santa Cruz, Chile

In creating Casa Lapostolle, the Marnier-Lapostolle family has pursued the same uncompromising approach to quality that made Grand Marnier a world-wide success.  Their objective is simple as it is ambitious: to create world-class wines using French expertise and the superb terroir of Chile.  The whole venture started when Alexandra and Cyril had a “coup de Coeur” for the Apalta vineyard in Colchagua. 

Today 100% of the Lapostelle Apalta vineyard is certified organic; it is also certified biodynamic.  In addition to its vineyards, Lapostelle is protecting more than 700 acres of native Chilean vegetation in the hills surrounding the Apalta vineyard.

The visitor's entrance to the Lapostelle winery building, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

The visitor’s entrance to the Lapostelle winery building, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Lapostolle winery is located in the town of Cunaco, right next to Santa Cruz. It is the original winery, where Lapostolle was founded in 1994 and today it is here where their Casa and Cuvée Alexandre wines are produced. With a traditional Chilean old hacienda style, it has a production capacity of 870,000 gallons (3,300,000 liters) in stainless steel and French oak tanks, and more than 3,500 French Oak Barrels

Gravity fed fermentation barrels with internal stainless steel cooling coils at the Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Gravity fed fermentation tanks with internal stainless steel cooling coils at the Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

“The architecture of the fermentation room as well as the two-barrel cellars is an ellipse included in a gold rectangle. The harmony of the proportions of this elliptic plan seems to be registered in a perfect circle, like the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome.” — http://www.en.lapostelle.com

The barrel aging cellar is on the fifth level, down, at the gravity fed Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

The barrel aging cellar is on the fifth level, down, at the gravity fed Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

The circular stairway connects five of the six levels at the gravity fed Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

The circular stairway connects five of the six levels at the gravity fed Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

 

The rear of the tasting "bar" in the barrel aging room lifts up to reveal a stairwell down to the bottle aging cellar at the bottom level of the Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

The rear of the tasting “bar” in the barrel aging room lifts up to reveal a stairwell down to the bottle aging cellar at the bottom level of the Lapostelle winery, Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

“In the southern hemisphere we can’t see the Pole Star but we have the constellation of the Southern Cross.  So we liked the symbol of having our winery oriented in the same direction as this extremely important constellation of stars in the southern sky.  The vertical way between the arrival of the grapes and the bottling has a fluidity course close to the natural slopes.  The hill has been dug according to the same invisible and underground lines followed by water during thousands of years. 

“This is why it was decided to let the entire wall in the wine library be the natural granite rocks with the existing cascade.  The decision to return the rocks which we found when we had to dig, into the form of floor slabs is another example of the will to have a continuous relationship with nature.” — http://www.en.lapostelle.com

Carved out of the local granite, the bottle aging room is on the lowest level of Lapostelle winery, below the barrel aging room (pictured above), Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Carved out of the local granite, the bottle aging room is on the lowest level of Lapostelle winery, below the barrel aging room (pictured above), Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Our favorite wine in the tasting which followed our extensive tour of the winery was the 2012 Clos Apalta.  Of course, it is the top estate wine produced by Lapostelle and priced accordingly.  It is an outstanding example of great Chilean Carmenère.  The 2012 Clos Aalta is comprised of:  66% Carmenère, 19% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from the Colchagua Valley.  At our tasting we were informed that the 2005 Clos Apalta was the number one wine in the Wine Spectator‘s “Top 100” for 2008.  It was easy to see how.  Wow — our tasting notes said “beautiful!”  And it should age nicely and be magnificent a decade down the road…

 

Our wine tasting at Lapostelle winery featured five superb red wines, several of which we got to enjoy in the afternoon with our on-site luncheon (see the next blog post), Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Our wine tasting at Lapostelle winery featured five superb red wines, several of which we got to enjoy in the afternoon with our on-site luncheon (see the next blog post), Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

Eat local: Casa Silva Polo, Rodeo & Riding Club House at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Ceviche appetizers before watching the Chilean rodeo at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Ceviche appetizers before watching the Chilean rodeo at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

“Viña Casa Silva is a 100% family-owned company that seeks to transfer the pride of its roots and its respect for nature and their people to the world and its future generations. Its wines reflect its commitment and the passion each member of the family has to and for the earth.” – www.casasilva.cl

One of the local Huaso cowboys demonstrating his skills before the rodeo at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

One of the local Huaso cowboys demonstrating his skills before the rodeo at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

The family’s love of traditional life is evident from the extensive equestrian facilities they have developed at their Angostura estate. After our winery tour and tasting, we had the opportunity to savor appetizers and Casa Silva wine in the stands at the rodeo stadium, adjacent to the polo field and restaurant

Home made dried horse meat empanadas enjoyed while watching the Chilean rodeo at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Home made dried horse meat empanadas enjoyed while watching the Chilean rodeo at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

Two of the local Huaso cowboys demonstrating their skills in herding a bull in the rodeo at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Two of the local Huaso cowboys demonstrating their skills in herding a bull in the rodeo at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile.jpg

Local Chilean Huaso cowboys gave a great demonstration of their skills in the rodeo stadium. Note that Chilean rodeos are very different from American rodeos. In Chile, two horsemen, one riding a horse behind the bull and a second horseman, riding perpendicular to the bull, try to corral the bull and “guide” him to a fixed spot on the edge of the rodeo stadium’s ring wall (see photograph, above).

The polo field, adjacent to the rodeo stadium (behind the photographer) and the restaurant at the Polo, Rodeo & Riding Club House at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

The polo field, adjacent to the rodeo stadium (behind the photographer) and the restaurant at the Polo, Rodeo & Riding Club House at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

The restaurant on the property, where we had an excellent late luncheon, is located in the Casa Silva Polo, Rodeo & Riding Club House on the Angostura estate.  Surrounded by vineyards, it has a spectacular view of the Andes Mountains and the polo fiel.

Our first course of ceviche at the restaurant at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Our first course of ceviche at the restaurant at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

 

Grilling meats -- chicken and filet mignons --  at the restaurant at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Grilling meats — chicken and filet mignons — at the restaurant at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

Our main course of perfectly grilled filet mignons and quinoa risotto at the restaurant at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Our main course of perfectly grilled filet mignons and quinoa risotto at the restaurant at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile.jpg

Our luncheon, organized by Casa Silva’s celebrated chef, Soledad Correa, included a delicious selection of fine fish and meats associated with the fresh vegetables and fruits from the estate. It featured delicious and flavorful country-style Chilean cuisine, meticulously planned to pair perfectly with the finest Casa Silva wine.

A beautiful and delicious cheesecake capped off a wonderful birthday celebration at the restaurant at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

A beautiful and delicious cheesecake capped off a wonderful birthday celebration at the restaurant at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile.jpg

 

Sports memorabilia on the wall of the Casa Silva Polo, Rodeo & Riding Club House at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Sports memorabilia on the wall of the Casa Silva Polo, Rodeo & Riding Club House at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Sauvignon Gris vineyard planted in 1912; Viña Casa Silva is recognized as the oldest winery in the Colchagua Valley, Chile

Sauvignon Gris vineyard planted in 1912; Viña Casa Silva is recognized as the oldest winery in the Colchagua Valley, Chile

Viña Casa Silva is recognized as the oldest winery in the Colchagua Valley, Chile.  Founded in 1892 by French pioneer and ancestor Emilio Bouchon, Casa Silva is owned and operated by Mario Silva, the fifth generation of winemakers.  Many of the vines were planted over 100 years ago, brought over from pre-phylloxera Bordeaux vineyards.  Prior to 1997, the Silvas sold their grapes to larger wineries.  One of just three pioneering wineries to achieve 100% certification under the Wines of Chile Sustainability Code, Casa SIlva was deemed “Winery of the Year” by the WInes of Chile organization in 2013 and “Most Awarded Winery of the 21st Century” by VITIS Magazine (Chile’s only specialized wine magazine published in both English and Spanish and distributed locally and overseas).

Viña Casa Silva's vineyards were planted from pre-phylloxera cuttings from Bordeaux; Colchagua Valley, Chile

Viña Casa Silva’s vineyards were planted from pre-phylloxera cuttings from Bordeaux; Colchagua Valley, Chile

Facing the Andes Mountains, the property containing the Angostura vineyards is the origin of the Silva family in Chile and includes plantations dating back to 1912 with original varieties brought from France by the first generation of the family. The property also houses the family pride, the old wine cellar that is a pioneer in technology despite its years. The soils are of fine sand over old alluvial substrates composed of small and medium-sized stones and a large among of decomposing rock. Low to medium depth allows for good drainage, and the organic content is low-medium as well. The climate is temperate Mediterranean. Summers are dry with moderate maximum temperatures, and winters are cold and moderately rainy. The average summer temperature ranges from 54º to 81º F (12º to 27ºC), and the average annual rainfall is 27.5 inches (700 mm).

A conrete fermentation tank dating back to 1939 at the cellars of Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

A concrete fermentation tank dating back to 1939 at the cellars of Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Cabernet Sauvignon (2014) aging in barrels in the barrel aging room in the cellar of Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Cabernet Sauvignon (2014) aging in barrels in the barrel aging room in the cellar of Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Our visit to Viña Casa Silva began in the vineyards where we had a carriage ride around the property (see the second photograph in this blog post, above).  The cellar tour featured both historic equipment and concrete fermentation tanks from 1939 and very modern winemaking equipment.  A highlight was seeing the family’s library room (see photograph, below), located at the end of a long underground tunnel, beneath the winery.

 

The private library of old vintages in the oldest wine cellar in the Colchagua Valley at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Chile

The private library of old vintages in the oldest wine cellar in the Colchagua Valley at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Chile

“Viña Casa Silva has the oldest wine cellar in the Colchagua Valley. Beneath its traditional and historic facade, however, it is one of Chile’s most modern wine facilities. Located on a century-old estate in Angostura, it is equipped with the latest technology, barrel rooms with the perfect conditions for aging wines, and a specially outfitted sector for small vinifications. It also has historic tunnels below ground and a beautiful collection of antique cars.” – http://www.casasilva.cl

The reception hall (often rented out for private parties) in the century-old estate at Viña Casa Silva in Angostura, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

The reception hall (often rented out for private parties) in the century-old estate at Viña Casa Silva in Angostura, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

Old wine makiing equipment outside the historic winery and the Angostura vineyards at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Old wine making equipment outside the historic winery and the Angostura vineyards at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

 

Verandah at the historic winery at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Verandah at the historic winery at Viña Casa Silva, San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

One of our favorite wines in the tasting (and on the four-day trip through the winelands of Chile) was the Viña Casa Silva Microterroir de Los Lingues Carménère.  The Silvas explain: “As part of [our] ongoing search for the maximum expression of quality, [we have] been a pioneer in the production of excellent Carménères from the Los Lingues Vineyard at the foot of the Andes Mountains.  Small sectors of this vineyard have been selected to produce this Carménère, the result of the first micro-terroir study conducted in Chile.”

Our private tasting in the winery at Viña Casa Silva included their top three red wines -- all outstanding; San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Our private tasting in the winery at Viña Casa Silva included their top three red wines — all outstanding; San Fernando, Colchagua Valley, Chile