ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours, in 1972 the first North American tour company to offer bike adventures in Europe (http://www.experienceplus.com/), brings the delights of cycling through the vines to the world-famous wine regions of Chile.
“This is very much a tour about wine in Chile,” emphasized Maria Elena Price, company director, referring to an eight-day tour with an optional three-day extension that embraces vineyards, wine spa treatments, colonial estates and the exhilaration that comes with two wheels planted on foreign roads.
Bicycling Chile’s Wine Country begins in Santiago before venturing into Chile’s Central Valley, one of the country’s highly acclaimed “new world” winemaking regions which also include the Colchagua and Apalta Valleys. Rich in culture and natural beauty some of the area has been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first stop is at a family-run winery for a tasting and lunch at Casa Silva, one of the oldest in the valley and also renowned for horses and polo. That evening guests overnight at Hacienda Santa Clara, a rural bed and breakfast frequented by Chileans as a summer get-away in the historical village of Zuñiga.
After a 42-mile ride the next day, guests arrive at one of the oldest haciendas in the Colchagua Valley, Las Majadas, related to the Bisquertt Wineries and with a stay inclusive of wine spa treatments, tours and tastings.
Day four brings cyclists through the Valle de Apalta, home to several of Chile’s most important wines: Montes, Casa Lapostolle and Ventisquero, as well as the up-and-coming wine from Viña Neyen. This particular winery uses only natural adobe in its buildings that receive grapes from some of the oldest vineyards in the region. The destination is Santa Cruz boasting an outstanding cultural history museum and the private art collection of Carlos Cardoen. Guests lodge at Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza, a central hotel with a beautiful garden and pool.
En route to the Pacific guests ride through the historic village of Lolol before reaching Hotel Marina Vichuquén on the shores of Lake Vichuquén. Beach views come the next day with a cycle south to Duao, a picturesque and isolated fishing town on the Pacific Coast where accommodations are at Hosteria Donde Gilberto.
For guests on the 11-day program that continues along the coast, a bonus is a visit to the historic vineyard and manor house Viña Guilmore (Tabonko Guesthouse) part of the Wine Hotels Collection and a family-run vineyard operated by the daughter of one of the original owners. Here there is also a small animal rescue operation.
Chile – Bicycling Chile’s Wine Country – 8-day tours are scheduled March 9-16 and October 12-19, 2013, at $3,550 per person double ($500 single supplement). See: http://www.experienceplus.com/tours/tours.html?tid=1624
Chile – Bicycling Chile’s Wine Country Plus! The Pacific Coast – 11-day program is March 9-19 and October 12-22, 2013 at $4,595 per person double ($600 single supplement). See: http://www.experienceplus.com/tours/tours.html?tid=1625
Image courtesy Widness and Wiggins PR/ExperiencePlus!