Chile's Wine Regions: Sipping South America's Finest Vintages

In recent years, wine has increasingly become a global game. Iconic wine locations like France, Italy and even California still maintain their stature, but the world is finding out just how many different places produce outstanding wines. The South American contingent has come on strong, and Chile’s wine regions are opening their arms to visitors who want to sip, sample and explore the country’s rugged beauty. 

Winery [Maipo Valley, Chile]

Almost any trip to Chile should start in Santiago, the capital, where you can get your feet wet, so to speak. Against the backdrop of spectacular mountains that hem the city in, you’ll find a strong culinary scene that capitalizes on the natural attributes of the country. Its long, long coastline, fertile soil and temperate valleys are the source of the fish, meat, produce and wines that drive local chefs’ creativity.

Luckily for impatient travelers, you don’t need to go too far outside of Santiago to start a world-class wine trail journey. The city itself is in the Maipo Valley, which is home to three of Chile’s oldest wineries and a center of cabernet sauvignon production. Within an hour, you can be touring local vineyards and wineries. Other varieties produced here include syrah and carmenères. 

Aconcagua Valley [Chile]

The slender Aconcagua Valley, about an hour and a half north of Santiago, is spectacularly beautiful, thanks to its snow-capped mountains. In fact, the highest mountain in the Americas, Mt. Aconcagua (22,828 feet) stands here, and the water it provides to the valleys below is key for the modestly-sized producers in the area. It has predominantly been a red region in the past, with its cabernet sauvignons and syrahs stealing the show, but whites like sauvignon blanc are making inroads in production and are definitely worth sampling. The region is also home to La Campana National Park and the Termas de Jahuel hot springs, so you can enjoy the great outdoors between tastings.

The seaside city of Valparaiso should also be on every Chilean itinerary. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its history as a seaport and a hub of cross-cultural exchange, and it’s also renowned for its artistic side (Pablo Neruda had a home in Valparaiso). Use it as a second urban base for sampling forward-thinking cuisine and setting out into surrounding wine regions.

The San Antonio Valley is only about 50 minutes from Valparaiso and about 12 miles from the Pacific, and its location is a big factor in the wine varietals that local growers so capably raise here.

San Antonio Valley [Chile]

Those who love a lively and memorable bottle of white wine are well-advised to make a stop in the region, which is home to extraordinary sauvignon blancs and chardonnays. But that’s not all that’s on offer; the valley is also the cradle of cold-climate syrahs in Chile, and the spicy character of its red wines is increasingly sought after.

If you are interested in wine from other parts of the world, read about South Africa's Western Cape Winelands.

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Gina Czupka

Gina’s first solo trip abroad, at age 16, changed her life. Since then, travel has been her passion and it’s her mission to convince others that they really can make travel a part of their lives. These days, she seeks out destinations where she can indulge her taste for adventure and shop for additions to her textile collection. Some of her favorite experiences from recent trips have included eating bun cha in Hanoi and feeding hyenas in Ethiopia.

Gina’s Favorite Travel Tip: When traveling abroad, learn enough of the language to be polite (hello, thank you, goodbye) and to shop and haggle (numbers and colors).

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