When Alex and Carrie Vik went looking to buy a South American vineyard, they didn’t just want to make a good wine, or even a great one. They wanted to make the best wine on the continent. For the couple behind some of South America’s most spectacular boutique hotels—Uruguay’s Estancia Vik and Playa Vik, with two more launching soon—this would be the biggest challenge yet. This summer, with the release of the Vik 2010 Cabernet blend, they’ll see if the nine years they spent making one wine have paid off.
In 2004, while the Viks were working in finance in New York and collecting art and wine, they started their search. Alex’s mother was from Uruguay, and since both he and Carrie loved spending time there, they decided to focus on South America. They hired winemaker Patrick Valette, whose family had owned Bordeaux’s renowned Château Pavie.
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When the trio got a tip about a property in Chile’s Millahue Valley, two hours south of Santiago, they had their doubts. The area is beautiful, with rolling hills and a glassy lake, surrounded by the forested Andes. “But it was 11,000 acres of wilderness. I was terrified,” Carrie recalls. On a hike, she saw a giant paw print that turned out to be a puma’s—although the area is mainly home to rabbits, bees and stray cows. There were no vineyards in the Millahue at the time, but the area neighbors the Apalta Valley and its renowned wineries, like Clos Apalta and Montes.