The view from ElquiMista Hotel.


Elqui Wines and their cool labels


Pamela Nunez and her husband Steffan Jorgensen of Elqui Wines


Rio Claro -- Elqui Valley


Chilean film director Pablo Larrain


Andrea Leon's Collection Series at Lapostolle


The Collection series of winemaker Andrea Leon. 6 Syrahs made in the same style, the only difference being the region from which the grapes are sourced.


Gigantic oak fermentation barrels at the stunning Clos Apalta.


Lapostolle vineyard property with the snow-capped Andes in the background.


Andrea Leon -- winemaker and marketing director at Lapostolle


One of the many homeless dogs of Chile


One of the thousands of the stray lost perros (dogs) of Chile. A blog to come on them soon.


Ignacio (viticulturalist) and Francisco (vintner) of the great Amayna Winery in Leyda. Blog coming soon.


Full Moon Rising Over Matanzas, Chile


View from my bedroom window in the staggeringly beautiful Matanzas.


Pepe Taller, reparador del neumatico (tire repairman), in Navidad, Chile.

Fixing Flat

Repairing a flat tire on the road from Matanzas to Pichilemu and a winery visit in-between.


View from my bedroom window in Matanzas, Chile. This is waterman's paradise: first-rate surfing, windsurfing, kite-boarding, etc. Just north of the world-famous big wave surfing break at Pichilemu, Punta Lobos.


View from bedroom window in Matanzas, one of the premier windsurfing locations in the world, as attested to by the professional windsurfer I met last night at the local restaurant, who also happens to own a home on the bluff just above me.


The cool barrel room at Amayna (loosely translated: "calm before the storm") Winery in Leyda, a wine region of San Antonio Valley, southwest of Santiago, Chile. In those barrels are developing some incredible Pinots, cool-weather Syrahs and, yes, one Sauvignon Blanc that will blow you away!


Two Cariagnes -- one Derek Mossman's Garage Wines and the other Undurraga's Rafael (blanking on his last name right now), an extraordinary winemaker who has two hectares of Pinot planted in Patagonia.


My MacBook Pro and my trusty Chile coffee cup.


The whites of Vina Casa Marin. Yes, that Sauvignon Blanc is deserving of that 95 "puntos."


Felipe Marin, award-winning winemaker at Vina Casa Marin, with his ruggedly-sloped vineyards behind him. And just beyond is the ocean, if you can believe it.


The vineyards at Vina Casa Marin.


Maria Luiz Marin -- The first woman winemaker in Chile


Looking from the balcony at actress friend Kristelle's parents' condo in Vina del Mar -- imagine the Marina del Rey of Valparaiso (a hip, cool city). We had just arrived. And the view over the seaport town was staggering.


My first helicopter ride in my entire life. My maiden voyage was a flight over Chile's soon-to-be-famous Casablanca Valley, an emerging wine region that has all the potential to make outstanding Pinot Noir. It's currently producing outstanding Sauvignon Blancs and cool climate Syrahs.


The dining room at the Santa Rita Winery property. This "estancia" -- mammoth, historical -- dates back to the 19th Century.


A pool/fountain at the opulent property of Santa Rita Winery, just outside Santiago.


A "funicular" -- or "inclined plane railway" -- in Valparaiso, Chile. Valpo, as it's known by the locals, is a port town near Santiago built against a steeply raked hillside. These funiculars were brought here years ago to move residents up -- and down -- the nearly vertical (it seems sometimes) slopes. They work mostly on a counterweight system. As one goes up it brakes the one going down, while the weight of the one going down pulls the other one up. They pass each other with less than 4" to spare, I swear. My first funicular ride; possibly my last.


I love the bold colors here in Valparaiso. This place, with enough money, has the chance to become the San Francisco of Latin America. So many beautiful buildings, many dying for restoration. One other thing I noticed down here: no alleys. Only in L.A. is there a tradition of alleys. Unfortunately, this means that all the wires that keep us plugged in to TV and the Internet mar the views of these beautiful properties. Not ruin, but mar a little bit.


On the left, in chef's whites, is Antony Cesar, a French ex-pat living in Valparaiso, Chile. HIs Emporio Pastis is one of the finest restaurants I've dined in so far. His rock fish is caught every morning by spear fishermen (I kid you not). He sources all fresh local ingredients. I'm very critical when it comes to food, and this guy does it all, as they say down here, perfecto. Fyi, in case you're in Valparaiso any time soon.


View from B&B sitting sentinel over the city of Valparaiso in the late afternoon.


A restaurant in Bellevista, a hip barrio of Santiago that is self-transformed into a completely other place at night. I love the bold colors and their contrasts.


Lunch at the incredible Aubrey Hotel in Bellevista. It's an oasis, a place you never have to leave if you don't want to.


A mural on a wall in hip, artsy Bellevista, one of the more interesting barrios of Santiago, Chile.


Daniela Lorenzo in her wine cellar below the floor of her terrific wine bar, Bocanariz, showing me one of her prized bottles. One of the enterprising two women co-owners of this place we stumbled on to in Santiago.

Bocanariz Wine Bar

Bocanariz Wine Bar on Jose Victorino in Lastarria, one of the hipper barrios of Santiago. Made a lot of new friends on my first day. Very friendly, very loquacious people, these Chileans. This is an amazing wine bar/restaurant. Over 35 wines by the taste or the glass. Hundreds more by the bottle. Excellent food. Wine tastings many nights. And the wines are all Chilean. The range was amazing: from Pinots to an incredible Gewurtztraminer!


Apparently, there are a few million of these unleashed dogs in Chile. Sort of like our feral cat problem in the U.S. At first I thought they had owners, but many of them don't. Very friendly, sort of part of the whole vibe here in Santiago.


Bocanariz is right up the street from where I'm staying. Got in early, no sleep, made a lot of friends at this amazing wine bar on a mostly pedestrian street. More photos coming!

Fiat 500

This is the Fiat 500 that I'm going to be driving around Chile. This is a test desription to see where it all ends up.

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