When deciding how to spend the few days around Christmas during our trip, we took a cue from our trip to South Africa and booked a couple of nights in Colchagua, one of Chile’s wine regions.
Potski Reserve 2016
Another great idea we brought from our trip to South Africa was the winery picnic. After a little research Katy found MontGras, a winery just down the road from our hotel, Noi Blend, that offered picnics. Even better, they also offer the opportunity to blend your own wine. Needless to say, this wasn’t something we wanted to pass up.
After a walk through the vineyard to learn a bit about the different grape varieties, we headed inside for a look at where they ferment and store the wine. We even managed to get a quick taste of some wine in progress.
After a brief tour of the vineyard we were set up with 3 varieties of wine, measuring tubes, calculators, sheets of paper and everything we needed to bottle our own blend. Meanwhile, Ella was set up in the cellar next door with crayons and stickers to make labels for our wine.
I won’t lie, we had no idea what we were doing. Fortunately, it’s fairly foolproof and we ended up with two bottles to take with us after our picnic.
Our home for Christmas was a small hotel called Noi Blend. Originally constructed as a wine cellar in 1875, it has been restored into a small boutique hotel. While not part of a winery, it is surrounded by them along with nice country roads for morning runs.
The hotel has a small pool with beautiful grounds and a single restaurant. We split our time between those two and sleeping. A tough way to spend a couple of days.
Next to the pool there was a cool wood fire heated hot tub. Cool being the operative word as the only flaw was the several hours of planning required to get it heated.
I was a little leery about a set menu on Christmas Eve but the dinner, along with all of the food at the restaurant, was excellent.
Even here in Chile, we are often asked why we decided to travel to Chile. The number one reason is that we haven’t been here but it’s also because it’s a safe country with little risk of illnesses, like Malaria or Zika, for us to worry about Ella catching.
The one risk that has been in the back of my mind, highlighted by walking along active volcanos and the number tsunami evacuation route signs, is that Chile is a pretty seismically active country.
On Christmas morning we got another reminder, fortunately from a safe distance. As we walked through the lobby to breakfast, the TV screen caught my attention. My Spanish may need some work, but I know an earthquake headline when I see one. A quick check on the Globe and Mail and BBC confirmed that there had been a large earthquake further south around the island of Chiloe.
I should say that I was impressed with how quickly we received an email from the Canadian government (travel.gc) with information and a reminder to let friends and family know that we were ok. Interestingly, Katy and I also received personal messages from one person each, our managers at work. Good to know they want us back.
From our Christmas of luxury by the pool, we’re on our way to the bohemian city of Valparaiso to check out some street art.