Few wineries in Chile have been talked about more than Clos Apalta's facility, and rightfully so. It took Casa Lapostolle, the parent of this icon wine, 4 years to blast tons of granite bedrock on a sloping hillside in order to build a $10-million, six-story, gravity-flow winery that descends deep underground. Was it worth it? Well, the property is now simply one of the most stunning wineries in the world. Spanning five levels, the winery is entirely gravity-fed. Three levels have been chiseled from the granite hillside to create a naturally cool environment for cellaring and ageing. The pundits have certainly made their opinions clear; Clos Apalta rates about 95 points in Wine Spectator and, in 2008, it was furnished even greater kudos by Wine Spectator when it elected Clos Apalta 2005 its Wine of the Year. Much of the blasted granite was reused for flooring, and the arced wooden ceilings made of native rauli wood in the cellar are equally simple yet intricate and just beautiful. The winery's spiral staircase, reminiscent of the Guggenheim in New York, was made to resemble wine swirling in a glass.
This is not a run-of-the-mill winery suitable for large groups or those who hold an incipient interest in wine; this is a highlight on any wine connoisseur's tour. Basic tours cost $20 (£13) per person with a minimum of four people, and include tastings of Clos Apalta and other lines of the Casa Lapostolle brand. Tours, including lunch paired with Clos Apalta wine, cost $60 (£40). The Clos Apalta lodge, located near the winery, has four casitas designed in harmony with the winery.