Latin America |
An Unlikely Journey
“More of the same,” the scant neighbours must have thought when the first truckloads of sheep arrived.
Little did they know.
It is doubtful that even great-great-grandfather Matetic could have imagined his family’s future success. A Balkan immigrant to Southern Patagonia, where the Matetic family recommenced as sheep farmers more than 100 years ago, it would be a long and unlikely journey to today’s Matetic Estate, home to the Matetic vineyards and La Casona hotel.
But in between lay five hard-working generations and commercial interests that evolved from sheep farming. Not unaccustomed to owning large tracts of land (or thinking big!), the family’s Patagonian holdings exceed 100,000 hectares; in the 1990s, 16,000 hectares were purchased in Chile’s central region, giving birth to the Matetic Vineyards.
See (and Sip) For Yourself
Dominated by the Andes and the Pacific on a strip of land that runs up South America’s south-western coast, Chile’s mix of European and indigenous influences imbue it with an old-school, European feel—and on our Chile Biking trip, you’ll take it all in on two wheels.DETAILED ITINERARY
A Well Kept Secret
The wines of the Matetic Estate (and the ambition of its owners) are symbolic of the revolution that has propelled Chilean wines up from the bottom shelves of wine stores. Confident in the valley’s microclimate (characterized by high temperature fluctuations and well-drained clay soil) the Matetic family built a state-of-the-art winery in 2004, which today produces 14,000 cases a year. There is a first and second label, EQ and Coralillo. Together they encompass a production of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, a Merlot-Malbec Blend and Syrah. The Matetic Estate became certified organic in 2004.
To the oblivious motorist passing by the towering eucalyptus trees and copses of pine that dot the undulating landscape, most of this is a well kept secret. Occasionally a herd of sheep can be seen grazing. A weathered wooden arch marks the entrance to the estate, through which a dirt road pocked with a pothole finish leads into the valley. It is only around the first bend that simplicity gives way to splendour.
To the left, a century-old colonial hacienda transformed into a seven-room luxury boutique hotel sits in the shade of towering old-growth trees. A short walk away is the café cum delicatessen boutique that sells cheese, cured meats and of course, wine. Across the manicured lawn and accessible only by bridge lays the new gourmet restaurant, Equilibrio. Beckoning from a ridge at the far end of the valley is the winery, housing a grandiose barrel cellar and unusual tasting rooms complete with waterfalls.
Something for Everyone
You don’t have to be an oenophile to love this place. With horseback riding, an extensive network of cycling and trekking paths and cheese-making classes to complement a full gamut of wine-related activities, there’s something for everyone. And in the evening, when the sun’s last rays add yet more spice and rotundity to your glass of Syrah, there are always the relaxing chairs on the hacienda’s terracotta tiled terrace. What better place (and companion) from which to ponder this unique and delightful spot?