Wine lovers can win ski trip to Chile this summer with “Sips & Slopes” contest

Chile wineIf wine and schussing are your thang, unleash your inner poet and enter the Wines of Chile “Sips & Slopes” contest. The rules are simple: compose and tweet an original haiku about Chile, using the hashtag #SipsSlopes. The lucky winner and a guest will win a five–night stay at Chile’s largest ski resort, Valle Nevado, including two round-trip tickets on LAN airlines. As you might expect, being wined and dined is included.

Chile is well-known for its stellar skiing and other outdoor recreational pursuits (both winter and summer), as well as for being “un pais de poetas,” a country of poets. Literary greats such as Pablo Neruda and Isabel Allende are the inspiration behind the “Sips & Slopes” contest, which is to showcase Chile’s reputation as a rising star of South American wine production.

The country’s diverse landscapes and topography provide ideal microclimates for the production of a wide range of varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Carmenere, Chardonnay, and Viognier. Where Chile was once merely a mass producer of low- to mid-range wines, today it’s a serious contender against the high-end wines of Argentina’s famed Mendoza Valley across the border.

Chilean wine regions such as the Maipo, Aconcagua, and Colchagua Valleys are drawing visitors from all over the world, who come for the Mediterranean climate, rural pastimes such as biking, horseback riding, and hiking, and excellent (and affordable) dining, wine tasting, and accommodation options.

Applicants to “Sips & Slopes” will be judged on “creativity, originality, and adherence to haiku format.” Entries will be accepted until June 30th (only one per person and Twitter account, please); the winner will be announced on or around July 7th. Buena suerte!

[Photo credit: Flickr user wharman]

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Black Tomato launches Epic Tomato, an ambitious new adventure offshoot


For years Black Tomato has delighted old travel hands with its inventive, bespoke itineraries to various corners of the globe. The company is especially good at showcasing beautiful destinations not yet well-known to most travelers beyond the surrounding region. Among others, Belgrade, the Carpathian foothills, the Kuronian Spit, and Bhutan have all been embraced by the company.

This morning, Black Tomato launched Epic Tomato, which showcases a selection of hardcore adventure experiences to very hard-to-reach places. These adventures are scheduled for lengths of between four to 21 days, and are grouped into five categories: Polar, Desert, Jungle, Mountain, and River. They are all led by serious expert guides, some with SAS (British special service) military backgrounds.

Bolivia’s Apolobamba mountain range, Mali’s Dogon region, the Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea (see above), the Mosquito Coast of Honduras, and East Greenland are just a few of the destinations reached by Epic Tomato tours.

Epic Tomato’s frankly epic experiences don’t come cheap. At the bottom end of the scale, three adventures come in at £5995 ($9660): 14 days in Papua New Guinea’s East New Britain and Duke of York Islands; a 21-day trek in Tibet and Nepal; and eight days in Chilean Patagonia. At the very high end: 12 days on Canada’s Ellesmere Island for £67,495 ($108,720).