When Jancis Robinson, author of The Oxford Companion to Wine
, visited Chile
at the beginning of the millennium, she observed that what Chilean winemakers do best is cabernet sauvignon, adding that “interesting things were also being done with pinot noir and shiraz.” The Colchagua Valley produces all three, which are harvested in April. The town of Santa Cruz, a three-hour drive south of Santiago
, is the center of the region and blessed with a perfect climate for red wine production. Thousands of Chileans and foreign visitors attend harvest celebrations—the festivities often include wine pairings with gourmet foods as well as traditional and specialty items like chocolates, avocado oil, honey, and dried fruits. Young and old play traditional games such as rayuela
(hopscotch), and the harvest celebrations provide an ever-rarer chance to hear authentic Chilean folk music.