loncomilla

experience

experience 150 150 Abby

Tabontinaja

Andrew came to Chile for a few weeks in September. He spent some time in Santiago, then a few weeks working on a farm in the Andes further North and then 7 days at Fundo Meza. We wanted to give him a good experience of the life here so he helped prune the olives, walked up to Tabontinaja – the highest point around – and gained some knowledge of the wine-making process over at the neighbouring Gillmore winery. Thanks for all your help Andrew!

Trabajadores

Translator

Winemaker

winemaker

winemaker 150 150 Abby

Andres Sanchez, the winemaker at Gillmore winery – our neighbours in the Loncomilla Valley, gave us the ultimate wine-tasting. We popped by just as he was in the laboratory determining the final blends for the 2010 reds before they are bottled in the next few weeks. It was such a treat to hear the award-winning winemaker talk about how these wines will taste after being in the bottle for a few years. The Carignan was very young and had some serious energy in your mouth, according to Andres this ensures it will develop a full flavour as it ages in the bottle.

It was also fun to see the science laboratory where the delicate blending happens.

Mountain Trail

Mountain Trail 150 150 Joy

This route takes you up the highest southerly peak that can be seen from the main house, weaving along disused logging roads through the verdant pine forests. Emerging from the pines, you traverse the ridge with excellent views to the west, and then dip back down into the forest and across the creek.

Walk Statistics

Distance: 10.6 km

Time: 4hrs 10 mins.

Ascent: 428 m

STAGE 1

Beginning at the main house, walk towards the beehives, through the olive trees. Cross over the fence to the right of the stand of trees that is next to the beehives. Once on the other side of the fence, turn right (West), and follow the small path running along the fence-line downhill. When this path branches  in two, take the left turn that levels out and widens, leading you into the pine trees, rather than continuing on the small trail downhill. (NB this trail running along the fence leads down to the creek, where there is a refreshing swimming hole and sandy bank. Good to remember for when you return from your walk!) This path curves around the perimeter of the hill. When you come to a branch in the path on your right, follow this downhill to the creek.

Cross over the creek at the stepping stones and walk up the bank on the other side. When you come back to a clear path, turn left and follow it until the path branches in four. Take the left hand trail, and cross the small stream that feeds into the pond that is on your left. Climb up the bank, and turn right at the broad path. Follow this path through the pine forest, continuing straight on until you emerge onto a dirt road.

STAGE 2

Turn right along the road and continue straight. Eventually the road leads you past a disused quarry on your right. The quarry is in three main sections. Follow the road until you reach the end of the third section, and the space along the road narrows again.

Here there is a sharp left turn that takes you off the main road and back into the pine trees. This left turning can be easily missed. As a marker, at the end of the quarry where you will turn left, there is another, more visible, path that branches right. If, having passed the quarry, the dirt road begins to climb steeply, then you have missed the turning and gone too far.

STAGE 3

After turning left off the dirt road, follow this forest trail through the trees, as you begin to ascend the westerly hillside. Turn right at the first and second forks in the road, continuing your ascent. After this, when you come to a T-junction, follow the road to the right and uphill. At the second junction, leave the road and continue walking straight uphill, due East through the trees. (If you turn left at this junction, the road curves to the south and then ends at a steep ravine, where you can go no further.) When you come to the edge of the planted pine trees, there is a narrow track that curves around the cleared cliff-face, then leads you back into pine trees on the eastern face. This is the best view North, looking down into the Valle Botacura. Here it is possible to leave the track and cut straight uphill, through the thick bush to the peak, for views south and west towards Huerte Maule.

Then return to this narrow track.

STAGE 4

When the track re-enters the pines, continue walking east until you come upon a dirt logging road again, which leads you along the ridge with clear views to the west and back at the hilltop you just climbed. Turn left on this road, following it downhill. Passing the first junction, continue straight on, downhill. After the road makes a hairpin turn, take the first left that leads you off the dirt road onto a grassier track. Follow this path downhill through the pines, until you re-emerge on the dirt road. Turn left onto this dirt road, and follow it around the hill, to where you first emerged onto the road in Stage 1 (before reaching the quarry). Turn right, and walk back along this path through the pines, across the stream with the pond now on your right, across the creek as before, through the trees and up to the property fence. Here you can either walk back up to the beehives and cross the fence, or turn left and follow the fence downhill to the creek. At the creek, if you walk about 100 meters upstream, there is a pleasant pool for a refreshing swim, and sandy bank to dry off in the sun.

Visit Loncomilla Area

Visit Loncomilla Area 150 150 Abby

Loncomilla Valley is home to many types of agriculture with vast expanses of vineyard, cattle farms (we have a local ice cream brand), blueberries, pine forests and olive groves. The Valley is also a haven of natural treasures – a meandering maze of water holes, natural creeks, oak forests, ancient boulders and native indian dwellings all to be discovered on the different walks documented here.

Creek Trail

Creek Trail 150 150 Joy

This walk takes you down through the luscious eucalyptus trees, along the meandering creek and then back up the ridge and along the hillside, with elevated views of the creek below and Valle Botacura beyond. It is a pleasant walk to do on hotter days, when the shade is a welcome relief from the strong Chilean sun.

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Walk Statistics

Distance: 2.86 km

Time: 1hr 10 mins

Ascent: 57 m

STAGE 1  (15 minutes)

Beginning from the main house, walk down to the dirt road between the greenhouse and Jardin 2. Follow this track down the slope until you reach an open field with a fenced field just beyond it. Walk to the far end of the fenced field, and enter the eucalyptus trees on the North side (i.e. from the side of the field closest to the hill, not the side closest to the creek).

Continue to the start of the woodland. Here a marker shows where the walk starts and ends.

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View to the start of the walk from the field

STAGE 2  (30 minutes)

Follow the path along and then into the eucalyptus trees, walking West with the creek on your left. The path meanders through the trees always following the direction of the creek.

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Start of the route into the woods (Spring)

Cross a rocky slope cutting through bamboo. In summer it may be easiest to cut down early and follow the stream bed. In winter, a higher and steeper route may be chosen. It is necessary to clamber over some boulders but so long as the stream is kept to the left, you are on the correct route.

When the path branches into three take the middle route which leads you through a grassy clearing. Continue straight ahead on the middle way. A faint track will lead to the sandy path which gets rockier as it nears the creek edge.

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Route following the stream (Spring)

STAGE 3  (15 minutes)

Once more, the vegetation opens out, this time to a curving rock face on your right. The track cuts away up to your right up the slope at this point however it is worth continuing onto the rocks. Here the creek runs across a rocky bed. Deep holes are carved into the rock above the water level. On the right hand bank of the creek, scrubby vegetation continues while on the left, the bank is barer with a few cacti. From here, you can see the steeply sloping side of the valley in front as the creek bends at a 90 degree angle just ahead. This would be a good spot for a picnic, especially in spring when swimming is possible.

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In order to climb the steep slope on the right hand side of the creek (directly to your north), it is best to retrace your steps slightly to just before the rock face and take the faint track to your right. The path climbs fairly steeply briefly until the edge of the wood is reached. As the path flattens, carry on north for around 10 metres then turn sharply right (east) into the woods which are initially largely made up of “Roble” (Chilean Oak) changing to Pine as you progress. This is the farthest point of the walk and the start of your return journey.

Weave between the trees climbing upwards towards top of hill. The path is not always distinct but stay on the hillside. As the slope levels out, you have views over the next the creek’s forward journey as it heads North in the direction of Constitucion. Follow the ridge east, keeping to the track to the right closest to the steep slope down to the creek.

With some elevation, you will have a vertiginous view of the creek now below you, looking back through the hills in the direction you came from, with Fundo Meza hidden behind the tall eucalyptus.

STAGE 4  (30 minutes)

From the viewpoint of the creek, follow the signpost up into the ‘Roble’ (Chilean Oak) trees keeping close to the slope down to the creek. The path along the ridge remains clear for a time but as the vegetation opens out into clearings, other tracks branch off and it is necessary to follow track markings carefully. A tall Eucalyptus provides a viewpoint to head towards.

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Track down to the starting field (Spring)

The path leads you back down into the trees, bringing you out at the edge of the eucalyptus and the field where you began.

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Track back to the house (Spring)

Follow the dirt track back up to the house, and enjoy a well deserved lemonade on the patio!

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