South America Drive

Santa Cruz, Chile

Jan 10, 2014

“We arrived in Santa Cruz a week ago. We really like our place so we decided to stay longer. This is wine country, some of the best grapes in all of Chile are grown here.  This area is often compared to Napa. Our host Gonzalo is amazing. He is helping us make some of the arrangements we need to figure out before we go back to the US for a month. The dogs are our biggest priority.“
I enjoyed my break, read a few books, and cooked a few “gourmet” meals; you know, the recipes that take 6 hours to make not including the prep the day before. The past few days have given me time to reflect. I have a different perspective than I had 2 years ago. It is interesting to see what stands out most in my memory …what I recall most vividly.

Santa Cruz

When I left off, we were leaving Pucon, heading north to Santa Cruz (2 hours from Santiago). The year 2014 had just begun. We had been in South America for 13 1/2 months. Ironically, looking at a map, we are straight west of where we began. We stayed in Santa Cruz from January 3rd to March 10th. Well, the dogs, our vehicle, and all of our stuff stayed in Santa Cruz the whole time. We went home for a month for our annual visit.

DSC06124We spent much of our site-seeing time in Santa Cruz tasting wine.

The first winery we visited was Casa Silva, a very British feeling winery with horses and polo grounds.






Wine tasting is serious business . . . .





We were entertained throughout our meal by this dog wrestling with a hose. It was a YouTube moment. I’m not sure who won, but the dog definitely had the best moves.




I “sat” on a tractor. I had high hopes of actually driving it, but I guess after a bottle of wine, this guy thought differently.





During the time we stayed in Santa Cruz, the fire siren went off dozens of times. We were told there were over 39 fires burning. This is the view from our room.



DSC06194Looking a bit farther to the left, you can see the hillsides covered with vines. This is a tiny part of the Colchagua Valley. Chile is known worldwide for having some of the best wines. It’s location in the foothills of the Andes is often compared to Napa Valley. Here, they make full bodied Cabs, Carménère, Syrah, Malbec, and Merlot wines. This area got the “World’s Best Wine Region 2005” award from Wine Enthusiast. The emphasis has been on the Bordeaux varieties brought over in the late 19th century before Europe’s devastating Phylloxera crisis. This is home to yummy, yummy, powerful reds!!

We experienced numerous earthquakes; pretty exciting for a Minnesota girl. So, in addition to the fire alarms, the earthquakes triggered dozens of dogs to start barking like crazy, roosters began crowing like they were witnessing the most amazing sunrise, and numerous car alarms added to the cacophony.




So we drank . . .













With all the superb wineries, you get fantastic meals. We are at Vino Bello thanking Gonzalo for all of his assistance.





Not sure the dogs really cared about the wine and food.



Before heading to the US, we visited the nearby town of Pichilemu. It was a quiet beach town when we are there. BUT, it hosts serious surfing competitions. If you visit during one of these, you will likely not find a place to rent: wall-to-wall people.

DSC06104We almost stayed at a place that was owned by a vet. Here she is with one of her wards: a dog that had paralyzed back legs. She created a wheeled contraption for him. My favorite part of the story . . . she attached a cell phone in order to find the pup after a day out exploring. Nothing stopped this little guy.


Santa Cruz is also known for horseback riding, trekking, and fly fishing. We did not try any of these here. Instead, I had a chance to work in a real chef’s kitchen. That story in my next post.

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