A brief history of the vineyard
In 1555, the settlers arrived in Chile and planted their vines.
As Chile entered the 19th century, it achieved political independence.
In the 1810’s, Chilean winegrowers decided to deviate from the Spanish model and renew their vineyards by planting mainly French grape varieties.
At the end of the 19th century, Chile welcomed many French winegrowers fleeing the Phylloxera crisis. And the country appeared for the first time in the spotlight thanks to French winegrowers eager to export their techniques and the Bordeaux model.
Extent of the vineyard
Today the Chilean vineyard extends over more than 207,000 hectares, and is the 8th largest vineyard in the world (2020).
Over 4300 kilometers long and only 180 kilometers wide, Chile benefits from a mosaic of fascinating terroirs.
But Chile is naturally located at latitudes where the temperatures are too high and unsustainable for viticulture. Without the help of the cold air current from Humboldt, Chile could not cultivate vines. It comes from the Atlantic Ocean, filtered by the Andes Cordillera and helps regulate high temperatures.
The main wine regions are
The 4 major wine regions of Chile are:
- Coquimbo: Limari Valley & Elqui Valley
- Aconcagua: the second largest region. It includes Aconcagua Valley, Casablanca Valley, San Antonio Valley and Leyda Valley.
- Central Valley: it is the most productive region, sited around the capital Santiago – Maipo Valley, Cachapoal Valley, Colchagua Valley, Curico Valley & Maule Valley
- South: Itata Valley & Bio-Bio Valley
Typical grape varieties and wines
Production is mainly based on single-varietal wines and red wines (70%).
For the red wines, the most common grape varieties are: Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère, which is Chile’s emblematic grape variety. Then follow Pinot Noir and Syrah, whose quality is indisputable in the regions of Patagonia and the Elqui Valley.
The indigenous grape variety le país also deserves some special recognition. It was the only grape variety planted in Chile and introduced in the 16th century, probably by the Spanish settlers.
For whites wines, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are very widespread. But more aromatic varieties such as Viognier, Riesling and Gewurztraminer are also cultivated.