Plan South America | Chile | Wine Country
Epicurean, Honeymoon, Plan South America | Chile | 12.06.24

Exploring Chile’s Wine Country

In Spanish, the word “lágrimas,” or “tears,” is used instead of “legs” to describe the drops of wine that stream down the inside of your glass following a swirl and a taste.

Subtle yet illustrative, this small difference in translation reflects the romance of viticulture in South America, where, in Chile in particular, dramatic Andean valleys and passionate enologists attract wine lovers from around the globe.

Though the first grape vines in Chile were planted as far back as the 1500s, innovative winemaking techniques brought international recognition to Chilean wine in the latter half of the 20th century. Since then, Chile’s wine industry has continued to marry tradition with modernity, earning its status as one of the most important wine-producing countries of the New World.

Chile’s coastal and mountainous topography creates a blend of climates where several grape varietals prosper and vary in taste. The dominant cab sauv can be juicy and drinkable or dense and chocolatey. Carmenère, the nation’s flagship red, ranges from herbaceous to plump. Chardonnays, crisp or buttery.

The exceptional terroir of Chile’s wine country–and that of nearby Argentina–is bound to please your palate. Take a glance at some of our favorite vineyards and accommodations throughout Chile’s Aconcagua and Central Valley regions to begin deciding for yourself which Andean destination produces the best vinos.

Casablanca Valley

Well-established and only 30 minutes from Valparaiso, the Casablanca Valley is an expansive, fertile bowl hugged by the Pacific Ocean and the Andean cordillera, where refined, cool climate wines like Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir flourish. A good place to start your Chilean wine journey would be at Kingston Family Winery or their neighbor, Casas Del Bosque. Both are prestigious family wineries that elaborate their wines under sustainable philosophies, offering thoughtful tasting menus and unbeatable views of the valley. For a more immersive experience, book a few nights in the colonial-style boutique hotel at Matetic Biodynamic Winery, where all grapes are harvested and sorted by hand. Hike, horseback or simply sip your way through the vines of some of the best organic vintages in the region, all while gaining a sense of daily life on a working winery.

Maipo Valley

Cabernet sauvignon is widely celebrated throughout the Maipo Valley, just a 40-minute car ride from the heart of Chile’s capital city. Here, a mild, Mediterranean climate stretches from the Andean foothills to the coastal range to produce the country’s most structural and tannic reds. Over 140 years ago, the founder of the historic Santa Rita Winery planted the some of the finest French vines in the fertile soils of the Maipo Valley and brought specialized wine-making equipment to enrich the new harvest. Today, enologists at Santa Rita continue to yield award-winning results by balancing the ancient with the innovative. A stay at the luxurious Casa Real hotel inside this vineyard estate is not to be missed. Much like their wine selection, this 16-room, restored summer home from 1880 only gets better with age, blending vintage appeal with a modern touch.

Clos Apalta

Colchagua Valley

A bit farther south of Maipo lies the iconic Colchagua Valley. The region’s lower elevation makes way for ocean breezes and mountain winds to cool the vines, extending the ripening period for grapes and preserving their acidity. This region is especially apt to cultivate Carmenère: a once-extinct Bordeaux varietal in Europe that found new life in Chile in the mid 1990s. Carmenère needs high levels of sunshine to succeed, so a visit to its home in Colchagua should be a shining mark on your Chilean wine adventure. A stay at the private vineyard residence of Clos Apalta promises a personalized enotourism experience, with opportunities to hike, mountain bike, or horseback ride through their extensive, leafy vineyards. Finish each day relaxing at the on-site spa before settling into a wine-paired dinner. Recently refurbished, their winery is architecturally impressive: it includes several underground levels and a barrel-shaped tasting room that blooms straight out of the hillside.

Cachapoal Valley

Wedged between Maipo and Colchagua is the less popular yet equally promising Cachapoal Valley, where red wines, like Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot tend to take centerstage. Varied microclimates, gentle Pacific breezes and clay soils create the perfect formula for a diverse selection of grapes to thrive. Younger wineries are beginning to establish themselves in the area, bringing the valley up to par with its neighboring regions. The glamorous Viña Vik leads the way in the Cachapoal region, with its spectacular 11,000 acre-vineyard and dazzling 29-suite avant-garde hotel, perched on a hilltop like an elegant spaceship touched down in the middle of the Chilean landscape. The project is both an architectural and enological triumph, where fresh and varied menus, vinotherapy treatments, and sustainability measures are indeed out of this world.

In Chile, uncorking and unwinding go hand-in-hand, and we’re passionate about both. Get in touch with our travel designers today to begin your journey through Chile’s wine country.

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