The Central Valley: Places to Explore

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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 an imposing 19th-century church, the town hall, the Colchagua Museum, the Wine Route office, and the grand Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza. Unfortunately, the church was so badly damaged during the February 2010 earthquake, that it is set to be demolished, and then rebuilt as it once was.

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 jacket, pin-striped black pants, colorful woven sash-belt, 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.

Unfortunately, many of Santa Cruz's adobe buildings collapsed in the February 2010 earthquake, but residents are determined to get the town back on its feet, thanks to wine production and tourism—the mainstays of the local economy.

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