Central + South America EXPLORING THE VINEYARDS OF CHILE BY BICYCLE Rolando Stein cazenove+loyd sent me on a mission to Chile to explore the wine regions. As a Chilean, I wanted to oblige but my condition was to take my bike. I went straight to the Colchagua Valley, were I stayed in a former 18th century Franciscan convent converted into a boutique hotel and owned by a charming Italian couple. The house is in Marchihue and sits right in the middle of a vineyard. While I was here I rode an average of 70 miles every other day. I was amazed by the miles and miles of vineyards, which are only interrupted by similar expanses of olive tree plantations. I was so surprised how this region has developed over the years; there are wine tours, horse riding, excellent food and, most importantly, wine tasting. As you ride you always have the Cordillera de los Andes with its snow peaks to orientate you. At night I was invited to meet the “locals”, an eclectic mix of foreigners, including European and Chileans all with a dream of making this Valley a new California (but better). One night, in a “casa de campo” I attended a concert organized by the Brazilian owner, who told me about his plans to open a restaurant in his back yard to cater for all his friends and travellers. I am waiting to hear how this is going so I’ll let you know when I hear from him. I continued my journey cycling towards the Farellones ski resort that overlooks Santiago. The route is glorious as you climb above the city and finally reach the resort after 40 muscle-destroying curves. From here I travelled to Valparaiso via the Casablanca Valley – Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc country, again acres and acres of vineyards slowly climbing the mountains. Finally I arrived at one of my favourite places on the Chilean Pacific coast – Cachagua, a sort of Martha’s Vineyard. Beautiful houses, modern and old, overlook the Pacific Ocean. This is a place to indulge in long walks along the pathway that borders the shoreline until you arrive at Zapallar. My favourite place to have lunch or dinner is the “Chiriguito” for some of the freshest seafood Chile has to offer. I spent 3 months in Chile, from the end of February until late May, and during that time it only rained on four occasions! I missed the opening of the Hotel W, the first in South America and I need to go back and continue my research further. Next I want to develop an insider’s guide to the incredible architecture of Santiago for c+l clients, but there is also some great architecture in the wine regions so you can take this in with a good glass or two of Chilean’s finest.