Home of viticulture in Chile, Maipo is one of Chile’s most important and historic wine-producing regions.
Discover the history of the first Maipo Valley wineries
Vines were first planted here around the time of Santiago’s foundation, in the 1540s. However, it wasn’t until the 1800s that viticulture expanded considerably on the back of Chilean’s accumulation of riches thanks to the mineral wealth of the Atacama Desert to the north. New French-influenced estates grew up as the wealthy travelled to France and returned home with new vines to plant. Many important Maipo Valley wineries still in operation today have their roots during this period and the region is home to some of Chile’s most prestigious wines.
The Bordeaux of South America
Maipo is situated at the northern end of the Central Valley where the houses and roads of the southern suburbs of Santiago encroach on the historic vineyards in the shade of the Andes. Just over the Andes is the Argentinean region of Mendoza. The primary Maipo wine style is rich, full-bodied, fruit-driven Cabernet Sauvignon, hence its nickname, ‘the Bordeaux’ of South America. The region also produces high-quality Carménère as well as Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon.
Delve into Maipo’s sub-regions
Alto Maipo (Upper Maipo) along the eastern edges of the Andes boasts the most prestigious areas of the region where the best Maipo Valley wineries can be found, nestled along the banks of the Maipo river and even amongst the houses of Santiago itself. Tour the Maipo Valley wineries here in the heart of the historic Maipo region and experience a bit of Chilean winemaking history. Maipo Medio (Central Maipo) lies to the west with more fertile soils and less refined wines, and Maipo Bajo (Lower Maipo) is centred on the towns of Isla de Maipo and Talagate. This area is home to winemaking rather than viticulture, with some big-name wineries making wines here from all around the country. However, some Cabernet Sauvignon and white grape vines are cultivated near the rivers where they profit from cooling breezes.
Get active in Cajon del Maipo or the Andes
Enjoy the stunning natural retreat of Cajon de Maipo. Hike or bike past towering mountain peaks and discover some of the region’s natural treasures. The Andes are only a stone throw away, so venture up into their heights for a spot of trekking to discover glaciers and thermal springs.
Explore Chile’s historic capital, Santiago
Some of the most historic Maipo Valley wineries are tucked away into the leafy suburbs of Santiago as they ascend towards the Andes. However, Chile’s rapidly evolving capital city, Santiago, also has a host of places just waiting to be explored. Take in the colonial architecture of Plaza de Armas, the city’s lively central plaza, explore and sample fresh seafood and fish in Santiago’s two main markets, or wander the amazing collection of pre-Hispanic civilisations in the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino. Meander around the traditional bohemian quarter of Bellavista and visit one of poet Pablo Neruda’s eccentric homes before riding the funicular to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal to enjoy stunning views over the city and the snow-capped Andes dwarfing the city.
Chile’s first vineyard
Its central Yungay neighbourhood is actually where the first vineyard was planted, so explore a bit of vinous history and culture by wandering its cobbled streets, lined with crumbling colonial mansions, elegant palaces and churches as well as avant-garde modern architecture. Experience the soul of local culture and sample some traditional Chilean cuisine and its signature wines in one of its large range of restaurants. The city boasts a vibrant eating out and nightlife scene as well as a selection of excellent places to base yourself while you explore nearby Maipo Valley wineries.
Our local experts at Wine Paths are at hand to smooth your path through Santiago and nearby Maipo Valley wineries.
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