For lovers of wine and bicycles, there couldn’t be a more sublime leisure activity than bicycling to wineries. And Chile is the ideal venue for this popular sport – boasting impeccable vineyards, eloquent wine regions, cool Mediterranean climate, fantastic bikes trails and amazing views.
Wine and bike day trips offer a chance to escape from Santiago’s city traffic and encounter the rural heart of Chile with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Soaring past rich vineyards and surrounded by scenery, one can truly understand why the world loves the quality and character of Chilean wine.
Wine Valleys near Santiago
Santiago’s closest wine valley is the Maipo, defined by a long, gentle stretch from the Andes to the coast. The mountains provide Maipo’s vineyards with cool mornings and earnest afternoon sun, and the Pacific Ocean’s delicate breeze punctuates the grapes with a subtle salty note. Maipo Valley is known for red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Syrah.
The Aconcagua Valley is 65 km north of Santiago, in the foothills of grand Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. Vineyards in this valley are nourished by annual snowmelt and the Aconcagua River. Like Maipo, Aconcagua is also famed for its red wines, but vineyards near the coast are producing crisp and delicious Sauvignon Blancs.
Heavily influenced by the ocean climate and weather patterns, the Casablanca Valley can be found 75 km northwest of Santiago. Refreshing climates, abundant morning fog, and late-day sunshine superbly nurture white wine varieties for which Casablanca is renowned. Wine aficionados often compare Casablanca to North America’s Napa Valley.
The easiest way to visit a winery on a bike is to register for a guided tour with a local tourism agency.
Most agencies typically make all the arrangements for wine and bike tours, including transportation, bicycles and equipment, direction and general support, and often lunch and water.
The following agencies offer day trips from Santiago:
· La Bicicleta Verde brings visitors to Maipo Valley and Viña Santa Rita.
· Bikes and Wine Chile offers tours of Chocalan vineyard in Maipo Valley and San Esteban vineyard in Aconcagua Valley.
· Trek to Casablanca Valley and viñas Veramonte and Loma Larga with Santiago Adventures.
· Numerous coastal and inland wine and bike tours are available in Maipo Valley and Casablanca Valley through Paseos en Bicicleta Bike Tours.
· Cascada Expediciones provides day-trip bike tours of Perez Cruz winery, Cardonal vineyard, and Huelquén organic vineyard in Maipo Valley.
Plan your own
Planning your own wine and bike tour could be a frugal option, but it is necessary to conduct thorough research beforehand. Define your route with accurate maps, and verify road and trail quality by searching internet pages and forums. Decide whether it would be practical to transport your own bike, or rent one at your destination of choice. Call vineyards and schedule winery tours ahead of time, asking about their bicycle accommodations and biking trails nearby.
And most important – safety first! Carry sufficient drinking water, and carefully monitor alcohol consumption.
How to arrive
Most wine and bike tour companies arrive to you, providing transportation to and from your hotel or residence in Santiago! Others will specify a convenient meeting place in a central location.