Words by Jamie Van Eaton | Photography by Kristen Penoyer
“Beer is made by men, wine by God.”
- Martin Luther
It’s no idle boast that the longest country in the world is also the one rapidly attracting adventurers with its versatility, vitality, and viticulture. It is here we visited the bucolic Viña Vik, the eponymous namesake to Alexander Vik, Norwegian Internet entrepreneur and billionaire.
Established in 2006, the decade-young winery is also likely the only one visitors will have the opportunity to experience on the eastern side of the Cordillera de la Costa range in Millahue Valley. Cradled in natural splendor, its overwhelming scenery takes center stage, nestled quietly between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, with miles of vineyards nestled throughout.
Among seas of robust green vines, stretching wide across a valley floor, perfection; solitude and nature in a wine region only two hours from the bustling streets of Santiago. Here, every day, at approximately 1:00 p.m., a refreshing, Pacific breeze arrives over Los Lazos, lowering the temperature just enough to cool the vineyards (and our faces), preventing grape dehydration, and reducing the risk of cluster mold. This is a healthy vineyard, brought to you by a handshake between science and nature.
And like Vik’s flair for the artisanal, the scientific, and the natural, so, too, the scenic splendor of the entire estate unfolds like a peacock tempting, teasing its unfurling of technicolor feathers. It is in this space owner Alex Vik marries his love for wine, art collecting, and his inspiration for the winery. After all, he crafted untamed, primordial beauty in an 11,000-acre wilderness, transforming it into a destination complete with celebrated Bordeaux-esque blends and a showpiece hotel.
And what an avante-garde retreat and wine spa the hotel is, a meeting of tech and ancient. It’s here within the UFO-like space, art-filled and complete with 22 suites, a spa, restaurant and a barrel room, where the wine tastings take place. A river flows along the entrance atop the bodega to cool the room through evaporation when the wind blows over it. And just like the hotel itself, the brilliant and beautiful architectural feature serves its purpose with such flair, it’s as much to ooh and ahh over as the handpicked carbon-fibre bathtubs.
And then there’s the wine. Vina Vik’s 2010 VIK Red Wine boasts a deep, dark purplish red—apropos since it’s intensely aromatic, reminiscent of cherry, plum, and blackberry. Milla Cala, on the other hand, is a holistic wine, estate grown and fermented with indigenous yeast. While VIK plays the part of the exacting, intense perfectionist, Milla Cala is easy going, and decidedly boho—a delicious, refreshing, easy to drink wine.
Private wine tastings of Vik’s world class offerings are expertly led under architect Smiljan Radic’s uniquely transparent roof design, a stretched fabric ceiling allowing for natural sunlight to illuminate the vast, airy space with ethereal bliss. Here, visitors end their guided journey through the workings of the winery, from crushing and fermentation to barreling and aging. In this tasting room, chief oenologist Patrick Valette and his team present the various VIK blocks, varietals, vintages, and wines.
Other guided tours through VIK winery facilities and horseback treks through the vineyard and nearby mountain trails or mountain bike tours create countless leisure activities appealing to both worldly travelers and adventurers.
There’s even a wine spa, where guests can revel in treatments inspired by the land and finessing VIK grapes into unique massage, facial, and body-scrub treatments. Once rejuvenated, and set amidst the vineyard hacienda, guests will savor exceptional 4 course high culinary experiences, resplendent with Chilean inspired foods paired—naturally— with VIK’s own wine.
It’s a refreshing adventure, a magical experience, thanks to Chilean hospitality, hard work, and inspiration breathed into the landscape, carried along the cool breezes and easygoing strolls through luscious green. And while it’s a trek to get there, that’s the entire point. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.