Following her graduation from Stanford in the summer of 2012, Eliana Arredondo (Kingston's Marketing Manager) lived and worked in Chile for 9 months. These are her recommendations for 36 hours in Santiago.
A great thing to do when you first arrive in a new city, whether you’re traveling there or settling into living there, is to orient yourself. The best way I’ve found to do this is through a walking tour of the city. Many larger cities, and even some smaller ones, offer free* walking tours, of the city you’re visiting. They're usually offered in English and lead by city locals. The benefit is that you immediately know where things are located in the city and many of the neighborhoods, making you much less likely to get lost later in your stay. Additionally, you see a lot of the city in a short time, it’s a great place to meet other travelers, especially if you’re traveling solo, and it’s good exercise!
In Santiago, I took the Good Morning Stgo! tour guided by Spicy Chile which takes you through much of the city's downtown historical buildings and ends at the base of one of Santiago's most famous sights, the Cerro San Cristóbal.
Cerro San Cristobal
One of two famous hills in Santiago, the Cerro San Cristóbal is the taller of the two and you must take a gondola to reach its peak. More adventurous visitors, who are not afraid to sweat or not short on time, can hike up to the top. From there you’ll take in great panoramic views of Santiago and have the chance to see up close the large Virgin Mary statue that watches over the city.
If you're tired after the tour (it is a long walk!) you can head to Patio Bellavista for lunch or a nice drink at one of Bellavista's trendy restaurants, just down the street from the Cerro San Cristobal. Restaurant recommendations include: The White Rabbit (American style food, mixed drinks and MOVI wines) and Backstage Life (Italian style pizza and great artisan beers from Chile).
Once you've had lunch and a little rest you can double back to see the hill and Pablo Neruda's house in Santiago, La Chascona. Built almost into the side of the Cerro San Cristobal, La Chascona is shaped something like a ship and was constructed for the poet's third wife and then lover, Matilde Urrutia. Tours of the museum are offered daily and can be taken in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French or German and though the website says no reservations are required, I recommend checking in before lunch to put your name on the list, just in case.
Cerro Santa Lucia
Once you've enjoyed your tour there, you can head over to the Cerro Santa Lucia which is not quite as high as the Cerro San Cristobal but getting to the top is not quite as easy. There’s no gondola and the last part is a series of steep and sometimes uneven stone steps to the miradoro or lookout point which presents different views of the city than the Cerro San Cristobal. The architecture on the hill, however, make it all worth the effort. On one side of the hill you’ll find a European style courtyard and steps with a Neptune fountain (pictured) leading up to other points of interest. Nearer to the top of the hill you’ll find a grassy courtyard with small fountains, all with a great view and perfect for sitting and relaxing a bit.
Feria Artesanal Santa Lucia
Across from the Cerro Santa Lucia is the Feria Artesanal Santa Lucia, a great place to purchase gifts for your friends and family. Less touristy than other markets in the city, namely Los Dominicos which is also beautiful but a bit of a trek, this market offers a plethora of stands selling typically Chilean goods including cooper, lapislazuli, leatherworks and more. I found some beautiful pieces ranging from purses to children’s clothing detailed with indigenous Chilean designs at reasonable prices.
Once you've finished your shopping, it should be around dinner time or time for a rest before you check out one of our favorite restaurants in Santiago which we've written about in detail here.
The next morning, be sure and head over to one of Santiago's up and coming neighborhoods, Lastarria. As you enter into the barrio you'll see stands of people selling antiques, old books and clothing and artisan crafts which are fun to peruse as you head to one of the barrio's cafes. We especially like Cafe Wonderful for a cup of coffee (or a bagel) or even delicious mango lassi which they also have as a menu item.
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM)
Then, on your way out of Lastarria don’t forget to take the time to see the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral or GAM as it is affectionately known. Formerly the headquarters of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s cruel regime, the place has been transformed into a cultural center named for one of Chile’s most famous poets and nobel prize winner Gabriela Mistral. There you can see movies, plays, dance performances, concerts and all forms of art. That’s not to mention the work of art that is the building itself with its patterned copper covering, open spaces and beautiful and unexpected stained glass ceiling! Pick up a program of events and mull it over in the center’s Café Público which serves up coffee and simple on-the-go Chilean food.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Then, if you still have some time left, walk the couple of blocks to see the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, another work of art building which may even be more beautiful than the art it contains.
Though you'll feel like you've seen a lot, rest assured you've gotten only the tip of the iceberg of this great metropolitan city. Look for our next post for more advice on where to go if you've got a bit more time on your hands.
*The tours are free but you'll need to tip your guide as they are paid only from the tips they receive.
Update: Kingston was recently featured in Hemispheres magazine's piece on 3 perfect days in Santiago. In addition to a nice review of our Pinot Noir and Bayo Oscuro Syrah the article is another fine resource for things to do in Santiago.
One of the most common questions we get from our friends and guests to our family's winery is "what other wineries should I visit on my day trip to Casablanca?" We thought we'd do a post on our favorite recommendations of neighboring wineries---where we like to go ourselves on a day off. They all share our focus on handcrafted wines, and we can testify first-hand of their gracious hospitality. It's not an exhaustive list, but instead we hope a reliable short list of other Casablanca wineries you'll enjoy visiting as much as Kingston.
As a side note, like us, these wineries are small and usually unable to keep a full time visit staff so tours must be booked in advance by at least a day to ensure tour availability. For those tours with lunch options, even more time might be necessary to plan your visit. In general, the rule is the more in advance you book your tour, the better. We've also made sure that at all the wineries we mention here have tours in both English and Spanish and sometimes other languages. ---Eliana Arredondo
A wonderful winery, you’ll be warmly welcomed to Loma Larga by their tour guide, Alejandra Gutiérrez who will take you on a walk around the small family-owned winery that is doing great things with cool climate reds and whites. The winery, which sits far into the ranch owned by the Díaz family is a lovely setting with lots of fruit trees and a neat underground bodega which has grapevines growing on its roof. The tour ends in a tasting of five wines in one of the cosy little houses they have near the bodega and which have been converted into tasting rooms. One of my favorite things about the tour here was Alejandra's extensive knowledge of the winemaking process and of wines in general having taken several sommelier courses. Chilean, she's also trained as a translator and is fluent in at least three languages, Spanish, English and French and loves to practice her French with any of you francophones out there. Also, I'm a huge fan of their Chilean Malbec (named by Descorchados as the best Malbec in Chile) so when you're scheduling a visit, ask in advance if you can try it.
To make reservations, go to their website or you can email Alejandra at firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest winery to be opened by Pablo Morandé, the winemaker/"discoverer" of Casablanca as a winemaking valley, they not long ago opened for tours. More than just a winery, they also produce balsamic vinegar and flavored alcohols which are sold in their shop, reminiscent of a small Italian cantina filled with countless other products made in Chile. In terms of wine, however, one of the most unique things about the wine they produce is that it is fermented only in oak barrels, clay pots and even larger clay tanks, which makes for an exciting tour. You can even plan to have lunch inside their wine cave among the clay barrels which you won’t find anywhere else in the stainless steel dominated Casablanca Valley. Even more interesting than the manner in which Bodegas RE produces its wines are the wines themselves. Full of strange and intriguing combinations, one of their most interesting wines, which I fell in love with, was their $25.000 CLP ($50 USD) white pinot noir called REvelation. Discovered by accident by the winemakers, this wine has gone on to win numerous awards in Chile and abroad. With the nose of a fine port, this white pinot noir tastes like you’re drinking pinot noir with a rather strange but not unpleasant twist.
To make reservations, go to their website or you can email at email@example.com
Also somewhat new to the tourism scene in Casablanca Valley, Quintay opened its doors to guests in early 2012. A co-op of wineries throughout the Casablanca valley, Quintay blends of berries of the same varietal from their different vineyards to craft delicious wines and a diverse tour experience. The tours, which are planned by their young tour guide, Rocio, lead you on small circuit in and around the winery, so be sure to bring your walking shoes. You’ll get to see some of their newest grape vines which are all organic and the unique architecture of the winery which lets in enough sun for them to use natural light most of the working day. You’ll also get to step onto the winery floor and taste different wines straight from the barrel. Since Quintay sources their grapes from different growers all over the valley, you’ll get to compare wines from distinct regions of Casablanca and see how much the micro climates within the valley affect the same grape varietal. After doing some barrel tasting, you’ll get to try the wines themselves, from the bottle, and compare even further the final blends. Excitingly, at the end of this year they're slated to start building some new visitor installations with views over the valley.
To make reservations, go to their website or you can email Rocío at firstname.lastname@example.org
This winery doesn’t sit in the Casablanca Valley, rather the San Antonio Valley not too far away, but is worth the trip. With a beautiful bodega decorated with ceramic tiles made by the sister of the winery’s founder and owner, Maria Luisa (Marilu) Marín. One of the first female winemakers in the area María Luisa resisted others protests that she was planting her vineyards too close to the sea and has survived to be a very successful winery Her son Felipe, is now the winemaker and year after year the winery continues to win awards for its outstanding wines. My favorite is their Sauvignon Blanc named by Descorchados as the best Sauvignon Blanc in Chile. Reminiscent of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc theirs is fruity and so aromatic that you can smell the orange blossoms before your nose even approaches the glass. In addition to the great wines you'll try at Casa Marín, another benefit of making the trip out to San Antonio is the restaurant, El Sauce, located in the tiny town of Lo Abarca where Casa Marín sits and Casa Marin’s beautiful bungalow, which is, as mentioned in our blog post on hotels in Chile, a great place to stay if you’re in wine country.
To make reservations, go to their website or you can email Isabel at email@example.com
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To visit Kingston Family Vineyards, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the second post in our series which answers our friends and guests’ FAQs about Chile. Most people want to know the best places to eat while they’re here. However, since we’re food lovers, this is a big list and we’ve decided to divide it into more specific FAQs like “Where should I eat when I’m in Valparaíso?” or “Where should I eat in Casablanca?” This particular post answers the question, “Where should I eat when I’m in Santiago?” In addition, if you're traveling to Chile you should know that dinner time is quite a bit later than in the U.S. It usually falls somewhere between 7:30PM and 10:00PM so if you go early to a restaurant, it might not even be open before 7PM or you can expect to be eating on your own.
Named one of the best restaurants in the world on multiple occasions, we have no qualms about suggesting this Peruvian restaurant in Chile. The restaurant, which can also be found in Peru and other places across the globe, has a great wine list, featuring our Cariblanco, and some of the best ceviche we've ever tried. While you’re there, don’t forget to try the Peruvian style pisco sours which differ a bit from Chilean pisco sours in that they contain egg white and a drop of bitters on top.
With its eccentric, eco friendly design and delicious traditional Chilean food, this is a must go if you’re in Santiago. That is, except if you’re there in February when the restaurant closes for the entire month. In every other month, however, Chile’s national chef, Coco Pacheco, serves up delicious seafood and tasty pisco sours in addition to their extensive wine list containing a couple of the Kingston wines. We recommend trying the corvina or Chilean sea bass because after all, you’re in Santiago de Chile!
A wine bar with delicious food, this restaurant is great for trying different Chilean wines but it’s not on the high end. Many wineries from all around Chile and the Casablanca Valley are featured here along with delicious fare.
Located in one of Santiago’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, Lastarria is filled with beautiful museums, architecture and gourmet food and drink. Of all the choices in the barrio, however, we particularly recommend Bocanariz. Owned by two Chilean sommeliers and a Frenchman, who is in charge of the food, this wine bar has probably the most extensive wine list of anywhere in Santiago. For appetizers to go with your wine, try the “candies” and if you like Malbec, go for Loma Larga’s award-winning Chilean Malbec.
Located in three different places around Santiago, Bar Liguria is a great place to go to for traditional Chilean cuisine in a homey setting where the tables are dressed in red and white checkered tablecloths and the walls are adorned in classic Chilean posters. Along with a long list of Chilean wines, you’ll also find some great Chilean beer which is becoming more popular with artisan breweries like Kross, Kunstmann and Guyacan appearing all across Chile.
One of our favorite restaurants in Santiago, our only regret is not going more often. In addition to gourmet Chilean food (try the ceviche!), they have some of the best cocktails we've ever tried. With strange and delicious combinations, Mestizo is worth going to if even for just the view and a nice drink. When you make reservations, be sure to ask for a table on the patio, you’ll end up overlooking the small pond in front and a beautiful sunset over Parque Bicentenario where this restaurant is located.
*Always make reservations
Almost everyone coming to Chile flies in and out of Santiago, nearly guaranteeing you will spend at least a night or so in Chile's capital city or the surrounding area. Since we host many guests who are staying in the area, we receive a lot of questions about where to stay and what to do while in Chile. As a result, we've decided to start a series of blog posts which answer these questions. Here is the first post which responds to the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ): Where should I stay when I’m in Chile?
This is certainly not an easy answer,but since our team in Chile and the U.S. has had some experience with hotel stays, here are a few recommendations for staying in and around Santiago, Valparaíso/Viña del Mar and Casablanca Valley.
With a great location at the foot of the Cerro San Cristóbal and just minutes away from Pablo Neruda’s house, La Chascona, our friend, Liz Caskey, recommends The Aubrey as the perfect place to stay for a few nights in Santiago. Once home to the nation’s leading political families it has been transformed into a beautiful boutique hotel with 15 rooms which vary in price and style.
Originally constructed in 1927 as a residence, it has been beautifully preserved as a hotel located in the now up and coming neighborhood of Lastarria. One of our favorite Santiago barrios due to its European style and amazing restaurants and wine bars like Bocanariz and city sites such as the Museo Nacional Bellas Artes, this neighborhood is a must see while you're in Santiago.
A French inspired, boutique hotel in the heart of barrio Providencia, Hotel Orly is located perfectly for close access to some of the city's best restaurants like the nearby, Aquí Está Coco. The hotel itself also comes highly recommended by another of our tour guide friends, Brian Pearson of Santiago Adventures.
Located on Cerro Alegre, one of the most important and most visited hills in Valparaíso, Casa Higueras has perhaps the best terrace for finding a spectacular view of the city. A bonus is the delicious food at their restaurant which features Chilean nouveau cuisine.
Also located on Cerro Alegre with great views of the city, this recently opened hotel, was built inside a palace and an old house both beautifully restored for the purpose. It is also the location of Restaurant Alegre home to Chef Sergio Barroso who worked for Ferran Adria at his famous El Bulli. His training at what was called the best restaurant in the world certainly shows in the quality of the food.
Located in San Antonio, just a few minutes from Casablanca, Matetic is not only a wonderful winery to visit, it’s a beautiful place to stay for a couple of relaxing nights in the middle of nature as you explore the valley of Casablanca and its wines during the day.
Also located at a winery a bit outside of Casablanca, their award winning wines make Casa Marín, in our opinion, one of the best wineries to visit in and around Casablanca Valley, whether or not you decide to stay here. Though they only have one guest house, large enough for 4 people, it is at the highest point of their vineyards in Lo Abarca with a great view of the Pacific Ocean.
Hidden within the coastal city of Algarrobo, this 13 room hotel is a neat, modern enclave just minutes from the Casablanca Valley. One of its most wonderful features is the hotel's wine cellar which they call their honesty bar. You can simply walk into it, as though it's your own, and select a bottle from their large collection, including many MOVI wines. Once you've chosen a bottle you sign it out and take it to your room or to the restaurant to enjoy with your meal. La Mirage Parador This 5-room boutique hotel and restaurant is in the tiny community of Tunquen, only about a 20-minute drive from us, and 10 minutes from the coastal resort town of Algarrobo. Service is a strong focus for owner-operators Kim and Ricardo and you can be assured of a nice meal at the hotel's restaurant.
A bit further from Casablanca than Casa Marín and Matetic, Lapostolle is worth a stop for the wines and their four small villas named after the four wines produced at the Clos Apalta winery, Carmeneré, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Also located at the highest point of their vineyards, our visitors who have stayed there love the beautiful view of the Santa Cruz Valley. * Click the name of each hotel to see its website
Imagine walking up to someone’s house for lunch. You stroll past their garden, continue up the front sidewalk and steps which are shaded by avocado trees and arrive in a house with a lovely shaded porch of wooden tables and a welcoming wooden front door. Sounds dreamy, right? That’s Macerado.
With a beautiful huerta or garden from which they take their fresh produce, you feel almost timid walking into the small restaurant which looks like it could be someone’s home. Add to that a focus on local ingredients, freshness, beautiful presentation and relaxed atmosphere and Macerado made me feel as if I were at home in California but with a Chilean twist. They also had local products for sale, such as beautiful shrunken wool shawls and pieces of clothing for your perusal as you waited for your next course. They are also another supporter of one of the local products we provide for our tastings at Kingston, Izaro olive oil.
In addition to being fresh, it is slow food, perfect for a relaxing lunch especially in the warm summer afternoon as the shady restaurant, felt cool and airy under the protective shade of all those fruit trees even on a hot day in Casablanca summer.
As mentioned before, not only was the food delicious but the presentation of the dishes is beautiful as well and the place has the feel of an even more upscale restaurant, despite the casual atmosphere. On the day we were there they served us a little appetizer, complements of the kitchen, using cherry tomatoes from the garden and fresh basil for our tiny taste of cherry tomato, basil and a small square of fresh local cheese.
Macerado also has a wonderful wine selection that includes Kingston wines, which we didn’t try for lunch, but would have paired wonderfully with the the Cebiche Mixto with pescado por Juan Fernández (e.g. fish from Robinson Crusoe Island) or the San Jéronimo lamb which my mother-in-law enjoyed from our friends, the Larrain family, and their nearby ranch. The fish of the day was creatively paired with a mote salad, (mote are something like wheat berries and used in Chile’s famous and refreshing drink called mote con huesillo), and we shared machas a la parmesana (clams baked with parmesan cheese) as an appetizer. The meal was topped off with a lovely Leche quemada (sort of like panna cotta, Chilean style) plated with fresh berries.
Altogether a tasty lunch with a great atmosphere, perfect for a full day of wine tastings in Casablanca. Bravo to our friend and Macerado's owner, Gonzalo.
Address: Avenida Portales 1685, Casablanca.