We have long believed that food and wine really do feed the soul. Every trip, not just those labeled as food focused, include forays into the culinary scene of the country our travelers are visiting. Chile holds a unique place as a hub not just for food but for wine as well. Below is a list of some of our favorite food & wine experiences in Chile's central valley from an engaging dinner with a garage winemaker, cooking with a professional chef in his rustic kitchen, or touring boutique wineries with the owner – we will connect you with locals who create unforgettable experiences.
WINE: Chile is an agricultural paradise whose bounty of fruits and vegetables supplies the world's marketplaces and whose wine graces tables on every continent. A Mediterranean climate and increasingly organic, sustainable farming practices combine to create high-quality wines. Within a three-hour drive of the country's capital, there are seven principal wine regions that grow Carménère, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, among other less-known varietals like Carignan, País, and Petit Verdot.In general, the Casablanca Valley is known for its whites while the Colchagua Valley is known for reds and carmenere.
1. Maule Valley: The wine region of Maule has been Chile's sleeper surprise in recent years. Winemakers there are reclaiming some old bush varieties of wine grapes, such as País (similar to the Mission grape), and Carignan. Uva País for years has been channeled into making a sweet cider-like drink called chicha. But all that is changing, as great single variety and blends are coming out of this once-forgotten area, which is actually Chile's oldest wine-growing region. Look for quality blends and single-varietals on restaurant wine lists and at wine stores like the one listed below. Our three-night stay in a local winemaker's home is the perfect way to experience the tradition of the region. See the full extension here.
2. Bike and wine in the Casablanca Valley: Chile's move toward cool-climate viticulture began 25 years ago when innovative winemakers dared to suggest planting in the pre-coastal Casablanca region. The valley is now world-famous for its technology and commitment to terroir, producing some of Chile's best white wines and cool-climate reds. The valley's cool coastal breeze makes the climate ideal for growing Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir — and also for comfortable cycling.
Tip: Add an overnight at one of our favorite biodynamic wineries, Matetic.
3. MOVI: We have an exclusive partnership with MOVI (Movimiento de Viñedos Independientes), one of Chile's most dynamic wine groups. MOVI was established in 2009 and is a vibrant association of small Chilean wineries sharing a common passion to create meaningful vintages on a personal scale. Every wine is homage to a particular vision, origin and terroir. Meet a MOVI winemaker in the intimate setting of one of Santiago's best restaurants to share an unforgettable evening of exceptional food and wine pairing.
FOOD: Over the last decade, Santiago has blossomed into a bustling metropolis where new attractions, including countless innovative restaurants and culinary projects, pop up every day. Explore Santiago's food scene from its humble beginnings to its modern expression with some of our food based experiences.
4. La Vega: The central markets have played an important role since day one, pumping high quality produce and ingredients through the arteries of the city and serving exquisite traditional dishes unique to Chile in a humble, unpretentious environment. A walk through these markets from high to low – stopping to sample the goods from our favorite vendors, food carts and restaurants along the way – will open your eyes (and taste buds) to the real Chile. One of Santiago's most typically "Latin American" experiences, La Vega is a large fresh produce market. Though sometimes overwhelming on the weekends with the crowds of santiaguinos (locals from Santiago), La Vega is a gem. Visit to see where people shop for fresh, cheap produce and where many restaurants source their ingredients. We recommend passing by the stall with an incredible variety of aji (peppers) and the Cafe Altura cart for great coffee.
5. Motomei: Step into the food studio of Chilean Chef Patricio Cáceres, Motemei, where he will host you for an unforgettable dining experience. The name, Motemei, is a double reference to the word "mote de maíz," or "corn of wheat," which is a sweet drink prepared with corn, peach nectar and dried and cooked peaches, and is also a renowned former restaurant in Santa Cruz, Chile. At Motemei, conversation is as integral a part of the experience as the food and wine.The seven-course tasting menu prepared from scratch in front of you draws on old Chilean recipes and emblematic ingredients but plays with modern flavors and techniques and benefits from the added touch of Cáceres' own creative presentation. Sit back and relax as the meal unfolds before you, narrated by the chef himself, one multilayered morsel at a time.