Most of Chile's fine wine vineyards are clustered in temperate valleys around Santiago. The region's terroir is ideal: a climate somewhere between California and France—warm days, cool nights, sufficient rainfall, low frost risk—and soils ranging from clay to tuffeau. Chile's natural barriers—the Pacific and the Andes—have protected its vines from many of the pests common to Europe. Chilean vineyards have won medals at top competitions in Berlin and Tokyo, and several vintages are rated 95 or better by Wine Spectator.
The first vitis vinifera raisin pips were planted by the Spanish soon after the conquest. Jesuit missionaries expanded the cultivation and brought additional techniques. In the 18th century, French immigrants introduced Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other varietals. In recent times, as the phylloxera louse devastated European vineyards, Chile drew on displaced European talent.
The Colchagua Valley, centered around the charming town of Santa Cruz, is comparable to Napa. The valley lies 90 miles south of Santiago. The valley is known for its boutique vineyards (e.g. Montes, Clos Apalta, Viu Manent, Viña Santa Cruz) and red wines such as Carmenère. Pinot noir, syrah, cabernet and Malbec are also produced here. The nearby Cachapoal Valley attracts connoisseurs with its spectacular views and fine Cabernets. Visitors to the Colchagua area usually stay at least two nights—touring, tasting and relaxing.
The Maipo Valley, located just south of Santiago, produces fine Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In fact, over 70% of the vineyard acreage here is dedicated to Cabernet. The country's first vines were planted here in 1546, and cultivation has flourished. Chile's largest exporter, Concha y Toro, welcomes guests to a colonial manor house surrounded by gardens and vineyards. Cousiño Macul produces premium, ultra premium and icon wines on an estate founded in 1856. For a look at small scale production of exceptional quality, visit Viña Aquitana or Viña Almaviva.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges day trips and multi-day excursions to each of these areas, with guides specializing in viticulture. March and April bring the vendimia, or wine harvest—a time of celebrations, competitions, and expanded tour and tasting opportunities.
Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.
"Wine is bottled poetry."