By Caitlin Hornik
Chile is home to some excellent wine regions! Responsible for producing roughly 36% of all wines in South America, Chile is the second leading wine producer behind Argentina. Of the wine Chile produces, 30% is Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% is Sauvignon Blanc, and 9% is Merlot. The remaining 50% is comprised of Carménère, Chardonnay, Syrah, and others. Of course, different regions produce different varieties depending on climate, soil, and location. Learn about some of Chile's finest wine regions below before you plan your next vacation!
Located within the larger Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley is one of the greatest wine regions in Chile. It lies 100 miles south of Santiago, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes Mountains to the east. The climate here is warm and dry, with vineyards planted from 650 feet up to 3,110 feet above sea level. The Colchagua Valley is sometimes compared to California’s Napa Valley, perhaps due to the full-bodied red wines both regions are known for producing. Colchagua Valley is especially known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Syrah varieties. The Colchagua Valley is also home to Carménère, a grape brought to Chile from France that is now recognized as the national grape of Chile! Popular vineyards here include Viña Santa Cruz, Montes Winery, and Lapostolle.
The oldest and most historic of the Chilean wine regions, Maipo Valley is known for its incredible Cabernet Sauvignon production. Over 40% of wine produced in this region is Cabernet Sauvignon! In the 19th century, the valley began importing grapes from Bordeaux, France. This is how Maipo Valley started to distinguish itself. It has since gone on to become one of the most highly respected wine regions both nationally and internationally. Weather in this region consists of wet winters and warm, dry summers. Geographically, Maipo Valley is the closest wine region to Santiago, making it a great spot for day trips for tourists. Santa Rita, Concha Y Toro, and Cousino Macul are some of the oldest and most celebrated vineyards in the Maipo Valley.
Situated roughly 60 miles north of Santiago, Aconcagua Valley is named after the river flowing through it, as well as the 22,000+ foot Aconcagua Mountain. This hot, dry valley is flanked by both the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Andes Mountains in the east. Vineyards here are planted anywhere from 160 feet to 3300 feet above sea level. As with the Casablanca Valley, the Aconcagua Valley also feels the effects of the Humboldt Current. It brings cooler winds through to help control the hot temperatures. Popular wines coming from this region include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Viña Errázuriz is a popular and important vineyard to know in the Aconcagua Region due to its scenic location and proximity to Aconcagua Mountain!
Located Northwest of Santiago, Casablanca Valley is a younger wine region, with the first grapes having been planted in the 1980s. The planting of the grapes here was a result of the revitalization efforts of the Chilean wine region. In the years that followed, Casablanca Valley expanded to plant vineyards around the industrial town. Today, it is best known today for its Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay varieties. Vineyards in the Casablanca Valley are subjected to the cool climate of the region as a result of its location near the Pacific Ocean and the effects of the Humboldt Current. Vineyards of note here include Matetic, Veramonte, Kingston, and William Cole.