Our first glimpse of Vina Vik was from a few miles out when the hotel suddenly appeared, perched dramatically on a hilltop. It looked as if a spaceship had landed in the remote Millahue Valley, standing in stark contrast to the serene country roads. Reminiscent of Frank Gehry’s extraordinary design for the Marques de Riscal in Rioja, the new Vina Vik is anything but shy. Set amidst a stunning backdrop of vineyard-covered hills, the property makes a statement with a combination of a futuristic, avant-garde winery, and a new spectacular destination hotel. An admitted big fan of the Vik hotels in Uruguay (see here), our family was anxious to see if the Viks could do it again. I’d say it was a homerun.
The best time to travel to Chile is November-March, their summer months. July and August bring colder weather, perfect for skiing in Portillo.
Bring layers. You couldn’t ask for nicer weather—cool in the mornings and evenings—sunny and warm during the day.
Though its all about the wine, try a Pisco Sour poolside as it’s Chile’s national drink.
Why go: After an active trip in the Atacama or Patagonia, Chile’s beautiful wine country is a perfect place to relax and decompress after days of non-stop activity and long travel treks. The Colchagua Valley is one of Chile’s most prestigious wine regions, just a two-hour drive from Santiago. Go for a few days--it’s a perfect ending to a trip to Chile.
The Story: Sometimes all you need is a dream and a vision, but deep pocketbooks, excellent terroir plus a talented team of winemakers, led by French-Chilean Patrick Valette, certainly help. Bought in 2006, there were no holes barred in creating vineyards from 11,000 acres of undeveloped land. Driving through the vineyards we were all amazed—it is truly remarkable what has been created in such a short time. The Viks’ have publicly stated they are on a mission to produce the top wine in South America. After three days, with generous refills of the outstanding 2010 and 2011 vintage at every meal, I think their goal is quite reasonable.
Rooms: The Viks’ don’t do anything generic: all 22 rooms are unique, designed by a different artist. Assembled on two levels around a central courtyard all the rooms have huge picture windows overlooking a lake and the vineyards. It’s truly a design tour de force and a treat to see as many as you can: make friends with the other guests! (You can ask the front desk to be show you rooms that are not occupied.) Many of the rooms are themed such as the Japanese Shogun or Gabler’s Grisalla, done all in grey. The corner suites are most impressive; with Hermes being a particular favorite. All Vik hotels are filled with impressive contemporary art and Vina Vik is no exception.
Winery: Do not miss a private, guided tour of the property and winery ending in a tasting; organized upon your arrival. The winery designed by Chilean artist Smiljan Radic is striking, state of the art and designed to make an impact. The entrance is surreal—with a giant reflecting pool complete with constant running water, giant boulders and scattered rocks. It’s peaceful, Zen like and completely otherworldly. Naturally, in typical Vik fashion, there is contemporary artwork within the winery and in the tasting room. The wine is a blend of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. You start the tasting first trying the different components individually before ending with the finished blend—very interesting! The Carmenere grape is not often seen outside of Chile, and is mostly produced as an easy drinking, affordable wine. Vik is challenging that theory: the wine is priced over a $100 a bottle, expensive for Chilean wine.
Activities: After a few days in the Atacama Desert (see here) we were all very happy to soak up the sun, reading a book at the striking cantilevered pool. One afternoon we went bike riding, weaving our way through the vines, passing guests running or off on a hike up through the mountain trails. Another morning we saddled up with Vina Viks’ resident arrieros—cowboys-- for a horseback ride first climbing up the trails for expansive views of the valley below. The gallop back through the vineyards was a highlight of our stay.
Food: This was the only disappointment during our stay. The menu is limited with only two choices at both lunch and dinner with no vegetarian option. By our third day we were sick of either fish or meat—basically the same choices each day, twice a day, with a slight variation. Considering the chef is known for using local, seasonal ingredients; salads and more vegetables were sadly missed, especially at dinner. A second restaurant next to the winery is opening soon and I am sure the Viks’ will adjust as the hotel is in its baby stages.
Must Do: Arrange ahead of time for an asado--an alfresco bbq-- in the vineyards. It was the best food we had at Vik: casual and rustic with tons of meat and vegetables cooked over an open fire. The view was incredible and we met new friends sharing a dinner at dusk overlooking the incredible setting.
Spa: Incase your not relaxed enough book a wine inspired treatment in the spa using grapes from the Vik vineyards.
Day Trips: It was hard to leave Vik, but as we had arranged a day exploring the region ahead of time, we reluctantly stuck to our plan. Vina Vik is set on the eastern side of the Cordillera mountain range, it’s a 45-minute drive to the more populated area of Colchagua, where many wineries are located. We started off walking through the centuries old vines at Neyen with a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc in hand. Next stop was Montes Winery; true pioneers in the region, before heading to lunch at Lapostolle. (A perfect spot for honeymooners or couples with 4 secluded casitas.) The meal overlooking their vineyards was boozy and delicious with each course paired to a different wine. Lapostolle produces one of Chiles most prestigious wines--their Clos Apalta--and like Vik has a show stopping winery, one built into the hillside descending 6 stories underground.
A Daytripper itinerary 2.5.16