Chilean Wine Regions: A Guide To The Best Vineyards & Wineries
Over the past thirty years Chilean wines have been making an appearance (and an impact) internationally, but that doesn’t mean that the wine history of Chile is young. European immigrants from the 1800s brought many grape varieties to Chile, but the first grape vines and wines can be dated back to the 1500s.
But while wine has been being produced in Chile for centuries, up until the 1990s most of the wine produced in Chile remained in Chile, which explains why the international knowledge of Chilean wine still feels very new in comparison to the history of wine producing countries like France and Italy.
But once Chilean wine makers began to export their wine and enter the global market, it didn’t take long for the world to recognize the quality and value in Chilean wine.
Wine Regions In Chile
Chile is a long and skinny country with a wide variety of landscapes that make it possible for Chile to grow a diverse range of wines. The many varieties and wine growing regions have made Chile one of the most interesting countries to visit for wine lovers seeking both incredible wine and adventure.
When exploring the five distinct wine regions in Chile you will travel through mountainous terrain, expansive dessert, and beautiful valleys that all separate the experience of wine tasting in Chile from many of the other popular wine regions of the world. While the terrain in the various wine regions in Chile are different, all the regions are similar in the sense that they all are full of sunshine and experience little rainfall.
Chile’s Wine Culture
Wine is an incredible part of many food cultures around the world, and in Chile the culture and historical significant of wine is as prominent as France and Italy. Given the vast landscape and varying terrains in Chile, each wine growing region is known for diverse grape varieties, all of which reflect the unique terroir of the region from which it was grown.
Chilean wine culture also embodies a certain rugged and deep appreciation for what the land has and can provide. In the late 19th century when most of the worlds largest wine regions were obliterated by phylloxera (a pest that lives in and eats the roots of grapes), Chile was spared due to its unique geography and protected mountainous landscape, which provided an opportunity for Chile to make a name for itself as a leader in the global wine industry. However, due to government regulated land distribution and it wasn’t until the 1990s under a new democracy that Chile was about to enter the global wine markets.
So while the rest of the world may have only had the past 30 years to experience the joy that is Chilean wine, the history of viticulture within the country has been deeply rooted into the very essence of Chilean culture for centuries.
Sustainability In Chilean Wine
The Chilean wine industry is well known for its commitment to environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and sustainability in wine making and farming. Due to its geography, Chile is lucky to have natural barriers and hot, dry weather patterns that prevent against many common pests and diseases, which naturally allows for much less pollution and use of pesticides.
In recent years as rainfall has become less and less due to climate change, lack of water has made wine making more difficult and also pushed the focus of Chilean wines even further towards biodynamic and sustainable growing practices that can adapt to the changing climate, and support the local environment.
When driving through the Chilean wine regions it is hard to miss how deeply connected traditional farming and wine making are in Chile. It is clear that wine really is farming, and in Chile many vineyards understand the interdependent relationship between farming other complimentary cover crops, animals, and grape vines to support soil health and promote biodiversity, which ultimately will be the key to maintaining healthy and sustainable vineyards for years to come.
Today more than 75% of all Chilean wine is being produced sustainability using biodynamic and organic growing practices, which is an incredible accomplishment and one that speaks to the Chilean landscape and the country’s commitment to a sustainable wine making future in Chile.
Chilean Wine Regions: A Guide To The Best Vineyards In Chile
When visiting Chile there are many different Chilean wine regions to choose from, each offering a different experience and specializing in different wine varieties depending on the specific regions soil type and climate. So depending on what your favorite wines are, and the type of experience you are looking for, it is best to understand what each Chilean wine region has to offer before planning your next wine adventure.
The Atacama Region is found in Northern Chile and is located within the infamous Atacama Desert. This region encompasses the Copiapó Valley and the Huasco Valley (also known as “the garden of the Atacama”). The Atacama Region (being in the desert) is extremely hot and dry, and because of this most of the viticulture in the Atacama Region is concentrated to a long-skinny strip of land near the coast where water is more accessible.
Wine production is done on a smaller scale when compared to some of the other wine growing regions in Chile and is most well known for their table grapes and Pisco.
Best Wines Of The Atacama Region
Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc can all be found growing within the region, but Pisco (the traditional Chilean spirit) is what the Atacama Region is most popular and well known for.
Best Vineyards To Visit In The Atacama Region:
South of the Atacama Region you will find the Coquimbo Region, which is also known as “the heart of Chilean wine”. The Chilean Wine Region Coquimbo encompasses three valleys: Elqui Valley, Limari Valley, and Choapa Valley, which have long been known for their table grapes.
Syrah in-particular does exceptionally well in this region given its higher altitude and sunny, dry daytime conditions and cooler nights.
Best Wines Of The Coquimbo Region
Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc
Best Vineyards To Visit In The Coquimbo Region:
The Aconcagua Region is one of the most prominent wine growing regions in Chile and encompasses three distinct growing valleys: Casablanca Valley, Aconcagua Valley, and San Antonio Valley. This region is located only 60 miles north of the capital city Santiago, and is home to the coastal and vibrant city of Valparaiso.
Best Wines Of The Aconcagua Region
Bordeaux Blends, Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reisling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir
Best Vineyards To Visit In The Aconcagua Region:
Emiliana Organic Vineyards (Organic/ Biodynamic Wine): Chile’s largest producer of biodynamic wines.
Most well known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Sparkling Wine, Carignan, and Carmenere
Kingston Family Vineyards (Organic/ Biodynamic Wine): A beautiful vineyard and restaurant that focuses on using biodiverse growing practices that have enabled the vineyard to excel and grow a large fan base internationally.
Kingston Family Vineyards is best know for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc
Matetic (Organic/ Biodynamic Wine): A beautiful biodynamic vineyard/farm which offers a variety of tours, tastings, guest accommodations, and farm-to-table dining. Close to the coastal city of Valparaiso.
This vineyard is most well known for its Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir.
William Cole: A small family vineyard located in the heart of the Casablanca Valley.
Most well known for its Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay.
Casas del Bosque: Looking for a relaxing afternoon, exceptional wine tour, or decadent meal? Then Casas del Bosque is just for you. With a stunning property located in the Casablanca Valley, Casa del Bosque provides an incredible atmosphere — and exceptional wine.
Most well know for its Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir.
Central Valley Region (El Valle Central)
The Central Valley Region in Chile is — you guessed it, right in the center of the country’s wine producing regions and is one of the highest volume producing regions in all of South America. The Central Valley Region is one of the largest in Chile covering over 400km beginning south of Santiago and reaching all the way to the Southern Region.
Due to the extensive geographical landscape, many different climates fall within the Central Valley which allows for a diverse array of wine varieties due to the many different terroirs. Within the Central Valley you can find expensive Bordeaux-esque wines in the northern Maipo valley, to Viognier and Riesling in the cooler climate areas, and of course a wide variety of the always popular Chilean Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
Because this region is so diverse and expansive, most wine makers will differentiate their wines by the particular valley in which they were grown. Within the greater Central Valley Region there are six distinct valleys, all of which have their own unique terroirs and wines: Miapo Valley, Cachapoal Valley, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley, Curicò Valley, and the Maule Valley.
Best Wines Of The Central Valley Region
Viognier, Riesling, Carmemère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay
Best Vineyards To Visit In The Central Valley Region:
Antiyal Winery (Miapo Valley) - Producers of Organic/ Biodynamic Wine
Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah and Petit Verdot, and Garnacha
De Martino Winery (Miapo Valley) - Producers of Organic/ Biodynamic Wine
Carmenere, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Syrah
Koyle Winery (Colchagua Valley) - Producers Organic/ Biodynamic Wine
Tempranillo, Carmenere, Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat, Rose, Sauvignon Blanc
Lapostolle ClosApalta Winery (Colchagua Valley) - Environmentally Friendly Growing Practices
Rose, Carmenere, Syrah, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Montgras (Colchagua Valley)
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon
Gillmore Winery (Maule Valley)
Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Franc/Blend, Rose, Mezcla de Tintos
Chile’s South Region is home to three distinct wine making valleys: Itata Valley, Bío Bío Valley and Malleco Valley. While most visitors exploring Chile’s wine regions choose to stay more north, there are more white wine grapes grown within the Bío Bío Valley than any other valley in Chile, but as you travel further south the conditions for growing grapes become more difficult as rainfall becomes more common, and the growing season shortens.
Best Wines Of The South Region
Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Reisling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay
Best Vineyards To Visit In The South Region:
Even further south from the South Region is the Austral Region in Chile which makes up the most southern and difficult wine making region. This region is known for its Pais, Muscat of Alexandria, and Pinot Noir, which are divided into two distinct valleys: the Osorno Valley (which is close in proximity to the city of Osorno) and the Coutin Valley (near the city of Temuco). While grapes are grown within the Austral Region, it is not a region that is regularly visited by tourists and wine enthusiasts given its location.
Best Wines Of The South Region
Pais, Muscat of Alexandria, and Pinot Noir
Just one adventure to the incredible Chilean wine regions will have you planning your next trip back. With a seemingly endless variety of vineyards, wineries, and regions to explore, a trip to the wine regions in Chile is only the beginning of what will surely be a long love affair with this incredible country — and their incredible wines.
For more vineyards and wineries to explore in Chile, check out this interactive map which will show you the various regions to explore and the vineyards you can visit along the way.