Its cars have been reconditioned and the original details have been preserved. We appreciated the cozy interior of the wood, with double seats upholstered in red Corduroy and matching glass lampshades, windows and luggage shelves.
Feeling like Tourists
Along the forty kilometers traveled by the train, the mechanics continuously feed the locomotive boiler as we passengers taste wine varieties of various shades and origins. In addition to this selection of the best grapes in the valley wineries, there are trays with assorted nuts, Muscat grape clusters and fine regional cheese.
We paid attention to the loudspeakers, as a bilingual tourist guide tells us about the characteristics of this place, its weather, the history of the various vineyards settled here and other details, including the history of the locomotive and the cars that make up this beautiful train.
The Valley of Colchagua, along which we are traveling, has clearly Mediterranean weather with well-defined seasons, temperature variations and a rainfall regime and altitude that guarantee fertile soil suitable for agriculture and especially for winegrowing. Along with the Valley of Cachapoal and the Valley of Maipú, it makes up the winegrowing zone par excellence. A significant amount of wineries produce very good quality wines and supplies both the local and the international market.
Upon our arrival in Santacruz Station, the end of the train journey, some youths dressed in the typical costumes worn by the Chilean huasos are about to delight us with several cuecas, traditional dancing accompanied by guitar and voice.
Santacruz vineyard and winery appear before our eyes. Italo, our guide, leads us through a path of knowledge about the various steps needed to obtain an excellent wine, starting at the hands of men until the final stage in which the product is bottled.
As we enter a huge colonial building, our eyes cannot grasp the vastness of the vineyard.
The plants are held by espalderas which, according to the explanations provided, allow taking full advantage of sunlight. The next stage is the winemaking room, where the various red grapes -carmenère, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot- undergo the process of maceration and fermentation in stainless steel tanks and/or wooden casks. They must be subject to low temperature and a certain degree of darkness.
Santacruz is a winery producing boutique wines. It has a low production volume as its work is concentrated on the production of very high-quality wines. Therefore, the conditions of the soil, the winemaking techniques, the quality of the barrels and the duration of the grape juice fermentation and maceration period are specially taken care of. And we must not forget the enologist technicians who will watch over the process.
Museums, Telescopes and More
The tour includes a visit to a museum and an astronomical observatory, which we reached on a cable car that prevented us from going uphill on foot. At the former, visitors make contact with the elements used by the primitive peoples, such as the Mapuches, the Aymara and the tribes from Easter Island. In the latter, the condition of low humidity in the atmosphere featured by this zone is ideal to observe planets and stars through very powerful telescopes.
Finally, and after deep longing, it is time for lunch: a delicious asado with varied salads. Good wine, of course, is part of the menu. On the highest part of the vineyard, in a circular dining-room with large windows and glassed roof, one detail stands out: a grapevine arbor and its classic grape clusters crown the tables and almost touch our heads as lunch is served.
After the last drink, we return to the shuttle that will take us to the City of Santacruz to continue with our tour and visit the Colchagua Museum.
Excellence is the word that summarizes this experience. All the details about the organization of the tour have been accurately arranged and the passenger feels assisted at all times both by the guides and the staff in charge. Simply perfect.
Tren del Vino
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Useful DataBear in mind
There are alternatives to the visits to the vineyards, the wineries and the wine tasting sessions. In all cases, prior reservations should be made at the offices of Ruta del Vino (Wine Route) located in Santiago, Santacruz and San Fernando (Chile).