“All people from Britain dream of having a vineyard in the sun,” smiles Will, as he shows us through his rows of vines that sit at 700-meters in the Andean foothills, deep in the Chilean countryside.
We’re having a family weekend in the wine country, just a couple of hours south of Santiago, with our now seven-month old baby, Joshua. This is a mere stroll in the back garden for this well-travelled “guagua” (that’s the Chilean word for baby, pronounced “wawa”) whose two passports have stamps from six countries spanning three continents already.
Our destination is the four-bedroom, family-run, Tumuñan Lodge. Driving out of Santiago on a Friday evening, we arrive in the dark, making our way along a dirt road through small villages, until we are finally greeted by Will who helps lug in the mounds of gear that accompany the smallest member of our family.
Large glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon from the nearby vineyard, Vui Manent, await us inside, and friendly staff dish up huge plates of beef bourguignon, still cheery in spite of our late arrival at 10pm. Meals are served “en famille” around one large table, but due to our tardiness the other guests are already in bed.
With just four rooms it feels like you’re staying at a friend’s house (indeed Will’s house backs onto the lodge) and the low-key décor adds to the family feel. Will, a British fly-fishing guide, and Carolina, his Chilean wife, set up this lodge in the mountains in 2007 after stints running lodges in Patagonia and on the coast. The project is still developing and the couple recently added a wooden hot tub alongside the large swimming pool so guests can soak in the warm waters in the early evening.
“The lodge is 3.5 stars, but the surroundings are 5 star,” says Will, as he takes us back down the path from his vineyard to the lodge for a wine tasting. As Joshua very obligingly naps, we sit at the wooden bar to sample two glasses of red. One is a blend by Ed Flaherty, the winemaker who is to be in charge of the transformation of Will’s Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from vine to bottle next year, which will mark the first harvest.
You could happily while away a weekend just on the Tumuñan property – as well a hiking, there’s riding, fly fishing and lounging by the pool to keep you busy – but one of the perks of being in Chile’s wine country is that it’s brimming with wineries to be explored. So we stop off at the historic winery, Casa Silva, en route back to Santiago, and tuck into a steak in their restaurant overlooking a polo field. Who said life post-baby isn’t glamorous!?!
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