The word is getting out about Chilean wine country, from established valleys like Aconcagua and Colchagua to up-and-comers like San Antonio. Chile is now challenging the best-liked wineries in California and France. With vineyards tucked into valleys between the jagged Pacific Coast and the foothills of the Andes, many within a short drive from Santiago, it is obvious to see why this wine region has been growing in popularity. For lovers of wine, food and culture, new wine routes are creating the perfect wine touring experience.
The Casablanca Valley is relatively new to the wine industry with wine production beginning as late as the mid-1980s. Situated on the coastal plain between Santiago and Valparaiso, it is Chile’s fastest growing wine region. The climate is strongly influenced by the sea, providing constant humid air due to a heavy morning fog. It is a prominent region for bright, complex whites as well as some formidable reds, thanks to a unique soil composition including clay, granite, iron, and even shell.
A must-do is a visit to Loma Larga Vineyards, which was named “Winery of the Year 2011” by Wine & Spirits. The winery specializes in cool-climate reds, which have garnered several awards.
Vines were first planted on the rolling coastal slopes of San Antonio Valley less than 10 years ago, which explains why the region still has only four small boutique wineries—but they’re producing some of Chile’s most exceptional Sauvignon Blancs, Syrahs and Pinot Noirs. Located 55 miles West of Santiago and just south of Casablanca Valley it is an easy hours drive from the capital city. The first wineries established in the San Antonio Valley were Matetic, Garcés, Silva and Casa Marín. These new “happening” boutique wineries focus on quality not quantity.
Matetic Winery is a state-of-the-art winemaking facility and a must see when visiting San Antonio. Matetic is designed to complement its beautiful natural surroundings. This Chilean winery incorporates organic agricultural practices and an architecture that optimizes vinification. On top of wine touring, they have recently opened a new gourmet restaurant and guest home. The winery has been called a “great ambassador” for Chilean wine on the world stage.
Often compared to the Napa Valley of California, Colchagua Valley is home to many of Chile’s top red wines. Located 80 miles south of Santiago, Colchagua extends between the Pacific Coast and the Andes. It is known for its hot weather as cool ocean breezes are blocked by the hills allowing daytime heat to linger.
There are 32 wineries here, 14 of which can be visited via the Colchagua Wine Train, a resurrected steam train that chugs through the valley between the cities of San Fernando and Santa Cruz.
Located 60 miles north of Santiago, the Aconcagua Valley is spread across the feet of the Andes. This is the narrowest wine-growing valley with the steepest slopes, offering visitors an extremely scenic Chilean wine country tour. The Mediterranean climate of the Aconcagua Valley provides hot days and cool humid nights – ideal conditions for viticulture. It is characterized by winter rains and cool breezes entering from the Pacific Ocean, and is particularly well adapted for growing Syrah, or blends based on Syrah.
Be sure to check out the well know Errazuriz Winery, one of Chile’s oldest and most beautiful vineyards in the valley.
In addition to the wineries, there are many more attractions in the Aconcagua Valley. Portillo in the Andean mountains is a paradise for skiers. Aconcagua Mountain is the highest mountain in the Western and Southern Hemispheres (22,000ft) and is enjoyed by mountaineers. Laguna del Inca is ideal for canoe and kayak enthusiasts.
From the Casablanca Valley to the Aconcagua and Colchagua, Knowmad can help you explore Chilean wine country for yourself. Give us a call at 612-315-2894 or shoot us an e-mail at [email protected], we are always happy to talk travel.
Jack is a Trip Specialist at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. He has an affinity for anything outdoors and is constantly on the move trying to stay curious and active. Read Jack’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.