Neyen Winery & Rodrigo
Neyen was bought out by a larger winery between Valparaiso and Santiago so they no longer do production on site, but they still grow grapes there!
They are responsible for making one red wine each year, called Neyen (and the year of production).
We tried the Neyen 2011, which was a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère.
We also tried the Neyen 2013, which was a 60/40 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère.
THE IMPORTANT SHIT:
During our 20 mile bike ride through Santa Cruz wine country, we struck out a lot. Attempting to go on the weekend, in the winter, without reservations was not our brightest idea. We debated skipping Neyen since it was 1-2 km past a different tasting room we thought was definitely open (fun fact: it was closed and substantially harder to get to then Neyen. By a lot. Like biking extra kilometers up hills so steep we didn’t bike…we walked, because…steep hills). However, as Neyen was the farthest one in our lineup, we decided to go to the end of the road and work our way back towards Santa Cruz so we didn’t miss out on something great.
After biking/walking about 1 km on really rocky road. We passed a woman on a bike and a man in a truck. We proceeded through to round the corner with baited breath, hoping the gates to the winery were open. And they were! Looks like we made the right call. Once we made it through the gates we noticed the biking woman was following us. She biked up and let us know that if we were here for a tasting we could go around the corner and Rodrigo would be waiting for us. We were stoked -- this was the first successful tasting of the day!
After taking what seemed like 100 photos of sheep and grapes outside, we found our way indoors to Rodrigo.
We can’t really state enough how beautiful the inside of this tasting room was. Matt immediately started planning a wedding inside. He was outlining where tables would go, where the bar would be, dance floor, etc. Until Ben asked him what wedding he was planning… (stay tuned for a destination vow renewal at year 10!).
Then entered Rodrigo. He was the only working employee (his boss was the woman on a bike who apparently lives nearby). When we saw him he was finishing up with another tasting, but once they left he immediately turned all of his attention on us. He put on some music, and walked us through the options. We ended up just doing a tasting (around 22000 Chilean Pesos/$30USD) If you pay 44,000 Chilean Pesos, you could do a tour as well, which we sadly had to pass up! We tasted the 2011 and 2013 (see bullets above). We ended up both liking the 2013 more and could easily see drinking it all day.
Amidst some fascinating wine drinking tips, Rodrigo told us a bit about his also fascinating life. He was from Santiago but lived in Paris, France during his Master’s in Philosophy. After that, he lived in London and Amsterdam. During his schooling, his friend taught him about wine and his appreciation grew. Upon returning to Chile, he realized he didn’t want to teach philosophy due to the negative effect of the dictatorship on his ability to teach what and how he wanted. He felt that it caused people to think so far to the right that he was swimming upstream just to have philosophical discussions. When philosophy didn’t work out, he took his trilingual skills to tourism. He now teaches Spanish in Pichilemu, Chile from Mondays to Friday and works at Neyen on Saturdays.
We really owe the experience mostly to Rodrigo. His eccentric and brilliant love of wine is easily worth the 22,000 Chilean Pesos and sore legs. The wine was great, and we would recommend the trip to anyone in Santa Cruz. But we hope you make it out there when Rodrigo is working!