Laura Hartwig. Local Winery.
Viña Laura Hartwig
20 acres large (20 hectares)
They use a combination of stainless steel, barrels, and concrete eggs*!
They make ~17,000 litres of wine in their barrels each year (that's small btw).
The vineyard began in 1994, but the Casa Hartwig began much earlier (we are pretty sure that means the family land was around for a while before the vineyard).
The important SHIT:
We walked into Laura Hartwig the first full day in Santa Cruz. If we have to be honest, it was the only winery in walking distance and it seemed like a crime to spend more than 24 hours in the wine country and not at least visit a winery. We had no idea what to expect, but once we got there it was breathtaking.
We were immediately greeted by Javiera, who walked us through their wine selection. The first time we drank 6 different varietals (2 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2 Malbec, and 1 Petite Verdot). However, it was the second night that makes it worth documenting.
We returned a few days later on the way to a fancy Italian dinner at Vino Bello (the internet told us to go there). Javiera was there again and immediately remembered us. We tried the Carménère, the Cabernet Franc, and the Merlot. Which means we tried their entire lineup minus the "Laura" and the "House" lines, which you couldn't taste. We're thorough like that.
During our little tasting, Javiera was discussing how the Merlot used concrete eggs. Now, we should note that she had said this a few times during the first visit, but we didn't really understand what she was saying. Her English was impeccable, but our listening isn't always great. Anyways, we clarified that she said concrete eggs and then she offered to show us! (Timon, the vineyard dog, was also super excited to show us basically everything!)
Apparently, concrete eggs are a technology used in Argentina that has spread to Chile. They are similar to barrels because they allow for oxygenation, however, they are cleaner and let the grape flavors speak for themselves. They allow for really bright, clean wines. We also had a chance to see the barreling room while a couple workers were filling barrels with wine to age. At this time, Javiera explained that they barrel all the wine, age it, move it back to stainless steel tanks, and then rent a bottling machine and bottle it. The kicker? They hand label and cork all of the bottles. And by "they" we mean two women. Yeah, they are a small operation, but that is a huge job!
To top it off, we ended up buying a bottle of Carménère to bring to dinner. And dinner ended up being a high-end Chilean restaurant instead of the original Italian restaurant, thanks to Javiera's recommendation. Great night all around. If you make it down to Laura Hartwig, be sure to say "Hi" to Javiera for us! And try the Petite Verdot--it's amazing!