Santa Cruz

This once sleepy village has become the height of rural chic in recent years, due, in large part, to the booming Colchagua Valley wine industry, which produces many of Chile's award-winning red wines. It has an attractive central plaza surrounded by a mix of modern and traditional architecture, including the town hall, the Colchagua Museum, the Wine Route office, and the grand Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza. The Church still stands on the Plaza although little of the 19th-century building survived the 2010 earthquake; it has been completely refurbished and rebuilt since.

This is farm country par excellence, and huasos in their wide-brimmed, flat-topped chupalla hats are as common behind the wheel of a pickup truck as they are on horseback. They take pride in their traditional dress and often seek out formal occasions to don their short-cropped black or white jackets, pin-striped black pants, colorful woven sash-belts, and short black boots, to which they strap jangling silver spurs and knee-high black spats. You'll probably see the cueca, Chile's national dance, performed at some point during your visit to Colchagua.

Santa Cruz is the perfect home base for visiting the Colchagua wineries that extend out to the east and west, mostly along Route I–50.

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