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For the lovers of wine tourism, this destination is a dream come true. Located in western South America, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, lays a tiny strip of land called Chile. With the world’s most arid desert to the north (Atacama), the main city and vineyards in the center, and lakes, rivers and glaciers to the south, this country has plenty to offer. This unique geographical location is responsible for creating one of the world’s finest wines and experienced winemakers.
There are multiple valleys in the center region reserved for wine; Aconcagua, Maipo, Colchagua and Maule, are just a few to say the least. However, the Colchagua Valley rises above the rest thanks to its combination of leisure and wine, displayed through its vineyards, wine tours and luxury hotels. As for other places to visit throughout Chile, Santa Cruz is a must-see destination. The town has three airstrips near one of Chile’s finest wineries, Lapostolle and is only a 50-minute private flight away from Santiago. Another benefit of the town is its close proximity to Clos Apalta Residence, which is just minutes away from the airport.
A member of Relais & Châteaux, the global fellowship of individually owned and operated luxury hotels, Clos Apalta Residence consists of 4 small houses with extraordinary views of the Apalta vineyards and the surrounding mountains, with prices starting at US $900,00 a night per person. There’s also a special package costing US $1,500 in which you can taste all the types of wine offered by Lapostolle, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot and the local favorite, Carmenere. Discovering the vineyards by bike, on horseback or going hiking in the mountains can also be part of your stay.
Traveling to Santa Cruz
There’s only one major airport in Chile where all international flights arrive: Santiago International Airport. Although if flying via a private charter to the country, travelers can fly into FBO Aerocardal, a private terminal operated by local business aviation airline, Aerocardal. Arriving there is much swifter and connects directly with a flight towards Santa Cruz. Aerocardal operates one of the few executive aircraft capable of landing at the local airstrip, the Pilatus PC-12 (8 passengers). The plane will be waiting on the platform, and after a short customs process in the private terminal, a 50-minute flight awaits.
Another option is arriving at Santiago International Airport and traveling by ground to Santa Cruz, which takes roughly 3 hours and can be arranged by Clos Apalta Residence. Chartering a helicopter after your private or commercial flight with a local provider is also a possibility, although there’s a lack of large twin turbine helicopters in the market ready to seat 6 to 8 passengers, making availability a concern.
The Colchagua Valley is only one of a dozen places that produce wine in Chile, while its surroundings make it a special venue and second to none in the leisure – nature – and wine tasting department. Chile is so much more than wine… Nevertheless, if experiencing the local culture is one of the aims of your journey, as well as connecting with unique landscapes while staying a night or two at a very nice hotel, Santa Cruz is highly recommended and is arguably one of the best kept secrets of Chilean tourism. ■