The Chilean Sauvignon Blanc harvest was well under way during my visit—it was a hot year so many wineries were a few weeks ahead of schedule.
Windmill in Casablanca
At Terranoble, this windmill helps to stir up the hot and cool air over the vines. Each windmill protects about 17 acres of land.
This vineyard, owned by Viña Ventisquero, is 1600 feet at its highest. The cooler temperatures (particularly in the evening) help preserve fresh fruit flavors and acidity in the grapes.
Carménère vines were long mistaken for Merlot—to tell them apart, you have to look at the leaves, which have two wings that overlap slightly in back. But the two different grapes ripen at different times, and picking them all together meant harvesting carménère before it was ripe (when it often has strong green pepper and bitter herb flavors.) Today, wonderful examples of 100% carménère are some of the tastiest wines in Chile.
The steep slopes at this Viña Ventisquero vineyard make harvesting difficult (we had to travel in an open-air truck to climb the hill.)
CDs are for the Birds
At Terranoble, shiny CDs are strung up over the vines to try to reflect the light and scare away birds.
Down to the River and the Sea
These new cool-climate Leyda vineyards slant down toward the Maipo River, about 3 miles from the ocean. Last year was the first harvest for these pinot noir plants. Though more wineries are planting in the Leyda valley, these vineyards are currently surrounded by avocado and strawberry farms.
The cellar at Cousiño Macul, one of the oldest wineries in Chile, dates back to 1877, and stays cool through the hot summer.
A Little Dusty
The bottles in this cellar at Cousiño Macul go back as far as 1927.
That's a Whole Lotta Wine
These 32,500 liter tanks at Cousiño Macul have been replaced by stainless steel tanks, but sit in the old cellar as a reminder of the winery's long history.