Tucked Away in the Vines: Las Viñas Queirolo Hotel in Ica

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Following our visit to Tacama, we were wondering what to expect from Santiago Queirolo, another widely popular Peruvian wine and pisco producer.  This would be the final stop of our weekend tour of some of Ica’s distilleries and vineyards and where we would be spending the night. Las Viñas Queirolo, a boutique hotel and small onsite production facility, is located in the heart of Queirolo’s Ica vineyards through the large gates and at the end of a long dirt driveway, completely surrounded by that year’s Merlots, Cab Sauvs, and other grapes waiting to be harvested, in a beautiful white colonial-style hacienda, a brick courtyard with a terraced gazebo, and fountain surrounded by green grass and colorful flowers. Was this, too, merely a facade for another disappointing visit?  Fortunately, it proved to be quite the opposite.

Open the door of Las Viñas Queirolo Hotel in Ica

We were greeted by a hotel employee, Claudia, who told us a bit about the property and assisted us in checking-in.  After quickly dropping our bags off, we sat down on one of the many outdoor terraces tucked away among the vines for a bite to eat, enjoying the magnificent view of the surrounding grapes.  The onsite restaurant “Las Viñas” offers tasty food and filling portions incorporating some local ingredients such as pallares, a type of bean, and pecans, grown on the vineyard’s grounds.  The hotel’s sommelier conveniently lists suggested wine pairings for most dishes on the menu, an excellent opportunity to try out their offerings including their relatively new line Intipalka – but more about the wine later.  My only complaint about the restaurant and food was the lack of variety between the lunch and dinner menus, but with several different options, it is still possible enjoy an assortment of dishes and flavors  over the course of a couple of days.

Following an enjoyable and relaxing lunch and our first taste of the excellent wines being poured, we followed Claudia for a tour of the hotel and property.  Due to some time constraints, we began our tour with a short drive through the vineyard while Claudia briefed us on its history, the differences in the types of grapes currently being grown, appropriate harvest times, and more.  We arrived at a nearby mirador (vantage point) situated on a hill overlooking a nearly endless expanse of grapes, contrasting beautifully with the bright blue sky.  Each day guests of the hotel have the opportunity to visit this lookout point in the early morning or around sunset for a toast and the opportunity to admire the panoramic views of Peru’s wine producing region.  After a brief contemplative glance in the vast distance, we returned to the hotel to have a look at some of the rooms and common areas.

Upon our return to the hacienda, we walked past the inviting pool area and outdoor bar filled with people lounging in the sun on comfortably-padded wooden beach chairs enjoying refreshing glasses of sparkling wine. We continued through the tastefully-decorated courtyards. One in particular stood out: it was adorned with a huge 17th century wooden grape press similar to the one we saw still in use at Porton’s distillery.  Stopping in along the way to have a peek at various rooms, we immediately noticed the hand carved wooden furniture, spacious bathrooms, air-conditioning, and the large comfortable beds.  The hotel offers 32 charming rooms in total, standard rooms, triples, suites, and family rooms, several featuring impeccable views of the vineyards.  Others, like the pool suites, have outdoor patios and seating areas, a perfect spot to read a book and enjoy a glass of wine.  In the center of the hotel lies a large watchtower, and we couldn’t resist climbing to the top for an amazing 360 degree view of the surrounding property, a truly mesmerizing spot definitely worth checking out.  The hotel’s main dining room and bar is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows again allowing guests a spectacular view of the surroundings, a perfect complement to the food and their delicious wine pairings.

Why visit a vineyard if you aren’t going to sample their offerings, right?  Dinner provided an opportunity to do so, and with our meal, we chose to take the sommelier’s recommendations.  Paired with our appetizer, was a complex and bold Cab Sauv/Petit Verdot blend from Intipalka, Queirolo’s higher-end label established in 2009.  With our main course, a crisp, refreshing and fruity Sauvignon Blanc paired perfectly with our fish.  We were also eager to try their award-winning Intipalka Gran Reserva Nº1, but unfortunately, with its popularity, all the reserves were dried up and we will be forced to wait until the next batch is finished aging (coming soon according to Claudia!).

A perfect end to an informative and captivating adventure in Ica, the Hotel Viñas Queirolo provides travelers with an unforgettable and relaxing experience in the heart of Peru’s “Wine & Pisco Country.” The rolling landscape that comprises the vineyards here are inviting, the wine delightful and intriguing, and the tasting experience classic and timeless  Yet as you stand listening to the guide uttering information about the history of the vineyards, the profiles of each sip of wine, the tension  in your mind and body eases.  The sweet smell of ever-ripening grapes, the cool afternoon breeze of the desert, and the cheerful and varied chirping of the birdlife engulfs your senses, and the desire to spend just a few more moments in this secluded sanctuary quickly ensues.

Queirolo offers guests with something more than just a wine and pisco tasting experience, it provides a refuge for those looking for that brief moment when you take in the wonders of the natural environment.  Like Suasi Island, it affords opportunities to read a book, play board games with the family, or to enjoy a leisurely stroll under elegant old pecan trees. Much like the infamous Sol y Luna, located in the Urubamba Valley, Queirolo provides access to an interesting variety of wildlife, with majestic swallows that swoop and dive through the air, little statuesque owls that sit with their cautious and watchful gaze over the rows of grapes below, and tiny and elusive bird with red mohawks that flit through the vines.  What these unique havens all have in common is their location, far enough away from the busy streets, packed restaurants, and huge crowds of tourists yet close enough to give you easy access to the major highlights of this distinct and diverse country.  Located only 4 hours from the hustle and bustle of Lima, Hotel Viñas Queirolo offers comfort, good service, and tranquility in a picturesque oenological environment, and provides easy access to other outstanding activites on Peru’s south coast including the Nazca Lines and Paracas and the Ballestas Islands.

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