On the south bank of the Maipo, 30 kilometers from Santiago , Pirque is a tranquil community that has resisted the cookie-cutter suburbanization that mars much of the rest of southeastern Santiago. Its major attraction is Viña Concha y Toro, one of Chile’s largest and oldest wineries, but it also boasts a weekend crafts fair and is the starting point for a scenic but narrow paved road that climbs the canyon before rejoining the main road via a bridge at El Toyo.
Viña Concha y Toro (Victoria Subercaseaux 210, tel. 02/4765269, www.conchaytoro.cl ) offers guided English-language tours with tasting (US$11 pp) of its vineyards, estate grounds, cellars, and museum at 10 and 11:30 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. daily except Sunday. Spanish-language tours take place 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. Saturday, but there’s a good chance a bilingual guide may be able to handle English-speakers on these tours as well.
While reservations are desirable, it’s often possible to join an existing group that might include—who knows?—figures such as Mick Jagger, Bono, Helmut Kohl, Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal, and others who have toured the grounds and sampled the results.
After the tour, look for lunch at any number of eateries along Ramón Subercaseaux, the main road up the Maipo’s south bank. The expansive La Vaquita Echá (Ramón Subercaseaux 3355, tel. 02/8546025) can seat up to 500 people indoors and outdoors for Chilean country specialties such as pastel de choclo and cazuela de ave.