Explore Wine Country on Your Terms
One thing Chile is famous for is its fantastic wines. Because of the variety of micro-climates that Chile’s wine region has to offer, each area specializes in different types of wines, from cool climate reds to big whites along the coast. There is something to try for wine lovers of all kinds!
In the Colchagua Valley, about 100 miles south of Santiago, you will find over 1,700 vineyards, thanks to the perfectly warm and breezy growing conditions. Warm weather reds to best here, where the climate is similar to Napa Valley in California – the most notable wines produced here are Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenére.
The Maipo Valley is one of Chile’s most famous regions, producing wine since the time of the Spanish conquistadors. French Bordeaux was grown here first, imported through the 19th century, being the perfect match for its temperate climate. Nowadays, this area sees more Cabernet Sauvignon, with the locally produced Don Melchor by Concha y Toro thought of as one of the best in the country. You can visit the Concha y Toro vineyard, which is a short drive from Santiago.
If you are more of a fan of white wines, you may want to look at the Casablanca Valley, which lies west of Santiago near the Pacific Ocean. Due to the salty air, cool breeze, and heavy fog, this valley is perfect for growing crisp costal whites, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Cool climate reds like Syrah and Pinot Noir also do well here.
For those who prefer spirits to wine, you can look to the Elqui Valley, which is Chile’s premier pisco growing region. Pisco is a distilled grape spirit, similar to brandy, and a source of dispute between Chile and Peru (Who invented it? Whose is better?) If you enjoy a bit of controversy, or just enjoy distilled spirits, this would be a lovely stop as well. Because this is the most northern of the wine-growing regions, the days are hot and sunny and the nights are chilly, with little rainfall year round. The wines that grow best here are Carmenére and Syrah, however if you do visit this valley, you may want to try the Pisco.
A visit to Chile’s wine country is a wonderful addition to any itinerary for those who love a wonderful glass of wine. Also, if you do plan to visit both Peru and Chile, perhaps you can help to answer an age-old question – whose Pisco is superior?