Chilean Wine Tasting, Santa Cruz

May, 2011

Travellers head to Santa Cruz in Chile’s beautiful Colchagua region, for the relaxing vineyards and a spot of wine tasting – and why not?

The rough plan from Chillán is to take the train to San Fernandez and on to Santa Cruz, for some wonderful wine tasting amongst Chile’s famous wineries, but also to hopefully seek some warmth and to relax.

Chillán, San Fernando, Santa Cruz, ChileGetting from Chillán to Santa Cruz

Depending on whether everything is operating, you can choose to travel this route either by train or bus.

By train

The train from Chillán to San Fernando started running again in April, after its closure due to the destructive earthquake of 2010.

At the time of writing, the train operates only twice per day, on a Tuesday and Saturday, at 0:700hrs and 16:30hrs.

Train tip: Buy your train ticket at least one day in advance as it is only a small 3-carriage train. If you arrive on the morning of travel, there is a good chance you won’t get on. Just as we arrived on the day of travel at 06:45hrs, to a completely full train.

By bus

Reluctantly, the 07:00hrs bus (Nilahue) around the corner from the train station is the only alternative to San Fernando, with Santa Cruz as the final destination (apparently).

The trip along flat Ruta 5 highway is uneventful, except for the fact of discovering that the bus company goes direct to Santiago – something not advised at the time of purchasing the ticket.

The bus driver’s schedule means that he just dumps passengers (us) along the busy 6-lane highway, if you need to stop before Santiago. Not only is this a little dangerous, but you have to walk ten minutes along the highway to then catch a taxi to the San Fernando bus terminal. Once at the terminal, you need to catch the half-hour bus to Santa Cruz, as it is around 43 kilometres (27 miles) away.

Viña Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Juicy plump winter crop

If you know all of this in advance, then it isn’t a problem. Although when you don’t, with only a little Spanish and not many people around, it’s hard to work out connections on a busy highway.

Bus tip: Confirm whether your ticket takes you all the way to Santa Cruz or just dumps you along the highway near San Fernando.

Which wine tour?

Lets talk about a wine tour as this is the main reason most travellers visit this gorgeous region.

With a plethora of companies offering varying tours at similar prices, a little research is required.

Settled with the Viña Santa Cruz in the Colchagua’s Lolol region as not only does this vineyard offer a memorable wine tour, but also several interesting activities to fill your time with, whilst visiting. Albeit the wine tour is a little pricy, but then what wine tour isn’t?

The guided tour includes a walk around the wine cellar and tank room, which is followed by what everyone waits for, the wine tasting.

Wine Tour and Tasting

The mini bus collects you from your abode for the comfortable half-hour drive through shades of beautifully winter-coloured vineyards and on to the Santa Cruz Winery. (Your transport also waits a couple of hours, to return you to your abode.)

This winery is extremely picturesque even though it is winter.

The crushing stopped and the tour consists of explanations of wine making and the tasting. Still, a tour around the wine cellar’s huge aged barrels complete with an explanation of how the tank room functions, is exciting.

Viña Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Liquid gold

The tour finally arrives at the sumptuous dining area, which overlooks the extensive valley and mountains in the distance.

Treated to four types of delicious wines delivered from the vineyard, accompanied with freshly-baked bread to dip in the vineyard’s smooth olive oil, and fleshy juicy olives from the spoils, completes the perfect tour.

Viña Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Great spot for a tipple

The golden and rust-coloured hues throughout the vineyard encompassed by melting sunlight, provides a stunning backdrop of the Colchagua Valley, warming your soul.

Viña Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Winter burnt hues

Things to do whilst at the vineyard

After the wine tasting, you are free to wander and relax around the vineyard until your ride back to the city.

Try a self-guided tour using the cable car to the highest point of the vineyard where a tiny thatched hut is set up as the small Cerro Chaman museum, containing replicas of the indigenous Rapa Nui, Mapuche, and Aymara cultures.

sculpture, Viña Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Ornate indigenous replica

Great expansive vistas from this vantage point on the observatory deck.

Viña Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Magnificent valley views

Once at the top, an added bonus is playing with the vineyard’s two Llamas, but watch your fingers – they can bite!

Viña Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
A brief encounter…

An Easter Island (faux Moai) statue is also planted at the top of this hill, which looks a tad out-of-place.

If you are lucky enough to visit on a Friday or Saturday night, the “Tour through the Cosmos” is offered from the observatory at the vineyard. This tour allows you to stargaze galaxies and constellations from the observatory’s high-powered telescope, which is its pride and joy, and the ‘most powerful telescope in Chile, outside of Chile’s astronomical observatory’.

Viña Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Elegant ironwork

Very few visitors around today so had the vineyard to ourselves. Not sure whether this is because it’s winter or just not a busy day.

Santa Cruz

The city of Santa Cruz holds enough interest for several days, even if you don’t wish to indulge in a wine-tasting tour.

Plaza De Armas is a popular meeting point for locals and offers many quaint resting areas amongst calming trees.

The burnt orange winter colours are just dazzling against the aged wooded browns. Lovely colonial architecture also adorns this plaza.

Plaza de Armas, Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Lazing on a winter’s afternoon

Since the 1800s, Santa Cruz was renown as a city of agriculture, with wine, tomatoes, and wheat as the main produce. Handicrafts also featured heavily in the city’s reputation.

Viña Laura Hartwig

A vineyard that is walkable from town is the Viña Laura Hartwig. Although closed during winter, you can still venture around the outside of the building and the beautiful grounds.

Viña Laura Hartwig, Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Yesterday’s residence

On this day, a horseman is training his horse and mesmerising to watch such skill, devotion, and patience. As I didn’t like to interrupt his concentration during his training, I’m not sure what this session was about.

horseman, Viña Laura Hartwig, Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Skilled horseman

Although this vineyard started its days as a family-owned crop farm in 1928, dairy and crops followed in the 1960s, then with the same family still owning this land, transitioning to a lucrative vineyard in recent times.

Viña Laura Hartwig, Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Expansive view
Viña Laura Hartwig, Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Watchful eye

Relics of a bygone era adorn the grounds, which make for delightful photo subjects, especially in black and white.

Viña Laura Hartwig, Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Barrels and barrow
Viña Laura Hartwig, Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Winter glimpse


Preferring to stay in Hostals (hostels) whilst travelling in South America, mainly because they are usually family-run, friendly, secure, and provide good accommodation for a lower price, Santa Cruz is no exception.

When thinking Hostals in South America, these are not typically backpacker-style shared dorms. Instead, this type of accommodation provides a private room with en-suite, and usually a communal cooking area. Occasionally, you even have the whole house to yourself.

Hostal Casa Familia provides comfy beds, friendly staff, a good breakfast, is a quiet home, with the added bonus of only a short ten-minute walk to town.

Leaving Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz provides an excellent break with valuable relaxation time, if you have been on the road for a while.

I recommend this stopover, especially, before the onslaught of Chile’s incredibly busy capital, Santiago.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Chile at Image Earth Travel.

Viña Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Chilean vines – Viña Santa Cruz
Viña Laura Hartwig, Santa Cruz, Chile, South America
Quaint balcony – Viña Laura Hartwig

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38 responses to “Chilean Wine Tasting, Santa Cruz”

  1. Francis.R Avatar

    What a beautiful colors, and certainly that is the more photogenic llama I have ever seen! xD Marvelous chronicle. Chile is in comparison to neighboring countries calmer and more organized, and, at least in my experience, Chileans are very polite.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Francis and great to hear from you!
      I loved Chile and also felt very safe travelling throughout Chile. The people are also wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment.

  2. havewifewilltravel Avatar

    What a lovely capture of color. I’ve never visited a vineyard in the Winter, but I think I must do so now! Most importantly though, how was the wine?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your feedback.
      The winter colour palette is certainly beautiful. The wine was excellent as is wine from Argentina.

  3. wheretobuywhiskeydecanterset Avatar

    You are so lucky that you have seen the beautiful scenes on our cycle. In my country, there is no any vineyard it has just garden :). I like the apple wine in red color. Your journey is amazing and i wish you all the best globe whiskey decanter set

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi, we all make out choices in life, it’s not about luck but hard work. 😉

      Thank you for your best wishes and the journey was and still is amazing – as is life!

  4. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    You know you had my immediate attention with wine tasting in the title! 🙂 Looks and sounds like a great experience. I don’t know what would leave me more tipsy, the wine or the views!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha well then, what can I say to that? At least I got your attention! I have another post on wine tasting in Argentina coming soon. 😉

      Both are wonderful. Too many more South America adventures to catch up on and write about yet – a spectacular continent.

  5. gillmorris Avatar

    What a wonderful place! The views are stunning and I bet the wine was nice too! Love your B&Ws NIlla 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Gill. It’s such a beautiful region and of course, the wine was excellent. Have many more posts coming for South America as I’m trying to catch up!
      B&W is my preferred medium. I don’t convert colour to B&W. I either take B&W with a film camera or set my digital camera to ‘monochrome’.
      Had a discussion with another photography blogger who insists B&W photography is just digital art as people can’t see in B&W, so it needs converting. Tell all the old ‘greats’ that one!

      1. gillmorris Avatar

        Indeed, no way does it need converting, some of the old greats produced some wonderful work in B&W 🙂 This is photography, it’s very subjective and that’s why I love it so much 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Agree, I love a lot of the work from that era – it’s timeless wonderful art. 🙂

  6. karenincalabria Avatar

    Your photos really jump me right to the location. And thanks for the interesting information about the hostals.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you Karen!
      I have a post to write about when I finish writing about Chile and on to Peru. One of the only times I stayed in a hotel in Sth America and was robbed. Stay tuned… 😉

      1. karenincalabria Avatar

        That’s scary. I was robbed in Rome’s Metropolitana. I felt it happening but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I’ll stay tuned.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Fingers crossed, so far I’ve been OK in Italy, regardless of a couple of dreams in which my wallet was stolen.
        It’s a horrible feeling and I have several stories about South America and ‘incidents’.

  7. narasimhansrikanth Avatar

    Excellent post & beautiful destination except for the bus ride .. Alighting at the middle of the highway gives a sour taste otherwise the tour is a fabulous one 👍

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ah well, the joys of travelling independently and without schedules has a habit of throwing you into varying circumstances. Good character building as they say… 😉

  8. Ishita Avatar

    A different side of the world, great post!! There is a Chilean wine tasting today in Delhi 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Really Ishita? Are you going?

      1. Ishita Avatar

        Yes 🙂 but it’s an invite based event and also very small. I saw it on Instagram

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        At least you’re going, what a shame it’s by invitation only.

      3. Ishita Avatar

        Are you on Instagram??

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No, I’m not on Insta although everyone says I must have an account. I don’t like the fact that it’s owned by Facebook and technically, it can on-sell your posted photos if desired.
        I have too many platforms I’m on, which need attention most days to think of another one to start up. 😉

      5. Ishita Avatar

        That’s a good way to look at it. I was asking because I thought of sharing their live video with you. But it was very short. 🙂

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ah right. I do have a dreaded FB page (I would love to delete) that you can share it on or share it in your comment here if you like.

      7. Ishita Avatar

        Haha 🙂 I see.

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Another platform to look after that takes me away from my writing and photography. 🙁

  9. the eternal traveller Avatar

    Lucky you did this first and told us all the tips for getting the transport right. What an adventure just to get there. Beautiful photos.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you.
      Nothing like ironing out the teething problems. 😉 Perhaps transport has improved since I travelled to Santa Cruz – I would hope so.

  10. Valerie Cullers Avatar

    Beautiful post and photos! You have such a gift for capturing each shot in the perfect light and each one sparks an emotional reaction in me!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your kind feedback Valerie!
      Glad you enjoyed my photos as much as I enjoyed taken and sharing each one. 🙂

  11. A Life Unleashed Avatar

    Great pics! I can almost taste the wine!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks! Ah yes, but I’d have to say I prefer the wine in Italy. 😉

      1. A Life Unleashed Avatar

        Ahh, any wine outside of SE Asia sounds good to me!!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        With the added bonus of being cheaper to buy.

  12. roughwighting Avatar

    Wow. What a lot of great information, with beautiful photos to match. Cheers!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, it’s a gorgeous region in Chile, but then again, most of Chile is gorgeous. 🙂

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