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Chile: The new Vik winery now offers an architectural place to dine

A new Chilean winery debuts an architectural new cafe geared at day-tripping visitors

When Norwegian-born business mogul Alexander Vik decided to launch a winery in the Millahue Valley in Chile, he said his wife's first reaction was, "'This is the craziest thing I've ever heard of! A vineyard, here?'"

Reachable by way of a winding dirt road from the Panamerican Highway, just southwest of the city of Rancagua, the area was wild and overgrown, fringed by a few rudimentary orchards that had been planted by local farmers. 

But Vik, who had developed an obsessive interest in wine, not only wanted to run a vineyard and winery but he also wanted to build one from scratch. And in the last decade, that is exactly what he has done: transformed the scrub-covered hillsides into tidy plantations of Carmenere, Cabernet and Merlot grapes.

Last year, Vik vineyards inaugurated an otherworldly winery building by internationally recognized architect Smiljan Radic, as well as an adjacent hotel called Viña Vik.

For those who just happen to be cruising through on a day trip, there is now another option: The winery recently opened a new Pavilion Café, a glass-walled box that offers staggering views of Radic's radical winery building as well as 360-degree views of the surrounding hillsides. 

Overseen by Chef Rodrigo Acuña, the menu, which changes daily, has a local focus. (Think: a plate of fresh goat cheeses from the surrounding valley or pan-seared beef tenderloin in a red wine demi-glace.)

"It's what we call 'Kilometer Zero' ingredients," Vik says. "It's all fresh and really seasonal. When the cherries in the vineyard are ripe for harvest, you'll find cherry dishes for dessert. And, of course, it all goes very well with red wine."

And that is ultimately why you'd be traveling to Vik in the first place.

Though the vines are still young (the first harvests were in 2009), the vineyard has been producing a notable red wine — one that has drawn the attention of Food & Wine, among others.

A carefully crafted blend of Carmenere and Cabernet sauvignon, laced with dashes of Syrah, Cabernet franc and Merlot, Vik's red has a bold, plummy body with good acidity and the dash of spice for which Chilean wines are known.

All of it, the perfect follow-up to a tour of the winery and vineyards.

Info: Vik.

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