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Chile is one of the world’s top wine exporters, after Italy, Spain and France. Winemaking dates back to the 16th century, and there are a number of excellent wine producing regions. Three of them are an easy day trip from the country’s capital of Santiago.
How you prioritize which wine region(s) to visit depends on the time you have and the experience you’re looking for. Here is how we recommend you maximize your Santiago area wine experience. You can easily visit these three regions in a different order, based on your preferences.
Santiago Wine Area Background
Chile’s signature red wine grape is Carménère, originally from Bordeaux. Other grapes commonly grown in Chile include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Because of its topography of natural barriers (the ocean, desert, Andes Mountains, and Patagonia region isolate the country), it’s one of the few places that managed to avoid the infestation of Phylloxera, the aphid that devastated vineyards worldwide.
Where to go if you have only one day: The Casablanca Valley
About 50 miles Northwest of Santiago, the Casablanca Valley is a popular day trip wine destination from Santiago. It’s more compact than the other regions and produces a larger variety of grapes due to its cooler climate. This allows you to taste a broader range of wines, including a number of good white wines. The type of varietals you are most interested in is an important consideration when planning your Santiago area wine experience. The Casablanca Valley is also the most touristy of the three Santiago area wine regions we visited, so don’t be surprised if you’re grouped in larger wine tasting experiences or have to wait for your tour or tasting to begin. The wineries vary from animal-packed Emiliana to young, family-owned Bodega Re. We had a very nice tour of the Casablanca Valley with Stephan, of Anclatourchile.
If you have another day: The Maipo Valley
For a more personalized Santiago area wine experience (or if you’re more interested in bold, red wine), go to the Maipo Valley, which is about 25 miles south of Santiago. Most of Chile’s oldest and largest wineries are based here, such as Vina Concha y Toro, Chile’s largest producer, and Santa Rita, Chile’s third largest winery. The area also hosts newer, family-owned and boutique wineries, like the biodynamic Vina Antiyal. We had a great tour with Mick, an American expat and certified sommelier who owns tour company Ride de Vuelta and conducted our tour.
If you have a third day: The Aconcagua Valley
We rank this Santiago wine region third only because it’s less well known than the other two so there are fewer tours available. These wineries produce some excellent red wines. The region is about 40 miles north of Santiago, close to the Andes Mountains. Many of the wineries here are small and boutique micro wineries, such as family owned Vina Sanchez de Loria, which has been in the same family for five generations, and Flaherty Wines. For a change of pace, we also visited Casa Almendral, which produces artisanal traditional Chilean sweet wines and pisco-based fruit liquors. We had a wonderful tour with Chris, of Bodega Wine Tours.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful! Keep an eye out; we’ll be delving deeper into each of these regions and how they impacted our Santiago area wine experience in future posts. Please feel free to contact us and share your own Santiago area wine experience!
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