The wine regions in Chile are among South America’s most renowned viticulture zones. They are recognized for their high quality wines, and fine wine culture. Chile is one place passionate wine lovers shouldn’t miss.
Chile has several notable wine producing regions, like the Aconcagua Valley, the Colchagua Valley, the Maipo Valley, and the Curico Valley. All of these regions are scattered across Chile, and are known for the types of wines they produce and also their wineries.
Most of the Chilean terroirs have similar features to the other world famous wine regions. However, a tour to its wineries can be an altogether different experience. Let’s find out why below.
#1. Discover the Taste of Old World Wines
The old world wineries outside Santiago, the capital city of Chile, present a traditional picture of winemaking. The best part is that it’s easy to get there. These wineries are situated close to Santiago, which sits right in the middle of the Maipo Valley, one of the major wine producing regions of Chile.
Here, you will come across wineries that are more than 140 years old, like Viña Santa Carolina. Not only do these wineries have a rich history of winemaking, their wines also represent many Old World winemaking techniques. Many wineries still follow the traditional grape growing and winemaking techniques that were established in the latter part of the 1500s.
#2. Impressive Architecture
Many of the wineries situated in the Maipo region boast magnificent architecture that reflects an old-fashioned charm.
Viña Cousiño-Macul is one of the older wineries in the region. It was built in 1870, and designed by a French architecture firm. The building was designed in a way that creates a passive ventilation system. Optimal temperature and humidity are also maintained in the cellars for the wines slowly ageing in the barrels.
Concha y Toro is not just the biggest producer of Latin American wines, but it is also one of the oldest wineries in the region, built in 1883. The winery is famous for their Casillero del Diablo, or “Devil’s Cellar,” which has weathered earthquakes, and the tests of time for more than 100 years.
#3. The Beautiful Landscapes
One of the many reasons why wineries have been built in such large numbers in Chile is its diverse geography. In the old days, the wine producing regions were concentrated in the central part of country. However, they have now spread out to different parts of the country.
This gives visitors they opportunity to experience many different landscapes during their wine tours in the country. In Chile, you will find wineries situated in the higher altitudes of the Andes, and near coast of the Pacific Ocean, and even in the Central Valley. You can return to Chile many times, and have a new, unforgettable experience every time.
#4. Remarkable Wine Tasting Experiences
Chilean wineries offer engaging wine tasting tours to visitors interested in learning more about the country’s winemaking techniques. There are many long-established wineries in Chile which still follow the age-old traditions of winemaking.
There are also a large number of modern wineries in Chile’s wine producing regions. You can take wine tours of both types of wineries to understand how the winemaking culture has evolved over the years in Chile.
Apart from wine tastings, some of the wineries also offer a range of other experiences. Casa Silva in the Colchagua Valley, for example, has a gourmet restaurant, boutique hotel, and a horse riding club that includes polo fields.
#5. Winning Wines
The most notable of the Chilean wineries specialize in different varieties of wines, depending on the region where they are located.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular, and heavily grown grape variety in Chile. The Central Valley is where the best quality Cabernet Sauvignons are produced. Expect to find the highest quality Cabernet Sauvignons at the wineries located in this region, which includes several subregions like the Maipo Valley, the Colchagua Valley, and the Maule Valley.
Other notable wines gracing the Chilean wineries are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Carmenere, and also Chile’s very own variety of the classic, Bordeaux Blend.
#6. Chilean Winemakers Focus on Quality Over Quantity
The wine regions of Chile have long been considered a wine lover’s paradise. The highly conducive climate, a dutiful labor force, and of course the Andes meltwater have allowed Chile to produce large volumes of wines which are available for very low prices. However, modern winemakers are starting to look at the Chilean wine culture from a different perspective altogether.
They are now switching their focus to producing high quality, expensive wines instead of large quantities at cheap prices. The wine scene in Chile is quickly evolving, and not even the devastating earthquake of 2010, (that resulted in major damage to many Chilean wineries), could slow down its growth. An ever-increasing number of vineyards are popping up in the cooler zones, and other locations that have higher demands.
#7. Big Surprises In Smaller Packages
When you search for the best wineries in Chile on the internet, the top results will likely be some of the biggest names in the business. However, if you delve into those results a bit further, you will find a few wineries run by smaller producers. Those smaller, lesser known locations offer wine lovers some of the biggest surprises.
The Vigno Group, founded in 2001, is dedicated to reviving the old-vine, dry-farmed Carignan. It supports the smaller producers, who had almost faded away, trying to compete with the bigger players. The small, local producers exchange knowledge with each other, and endeavor to come up with new, innovative winemaking techniques and experiences for their visitors.
Chilean wineries are a delight to visit. Not only because they offer unique wine tasting experiences, but also because of their hospitality and friendly reception.
The Chilean wine regions continue to struggle with challenges such as frequent earthquakes, and ongoing global warming which affects a large number of the wineries, forcing them to relocate further south.
But Chile’s wineries still manage to thrive, and produce world famous, and award-winning wines. Chile has emerged as a shining example for other developing and struggling wine regions throughout the world. A visit to Chile’s extraordinary wineries should be at the top of the list of any wine lover.