Vineyards near Valparaiso, Chile include the Casablanca Valley – home of the country’s finest white wines

The Casablanca Valley is one of Chile’s most recent and rapidly developing wine regions, which is already being revered among the best – despite erring from the country’s reputation for producing world class red wines.

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The valley is one of the country’s few wine regions that is celebrated for its white styles. Casablanca Valley vineyards thrive in what is Chile’s first cool climate wine region, where Pacific Ocean breezes and the icy Humboldt current bring temperatures down while morning mists provide moisture and shelter grapes from over exposure to the sun.

Chardonnay, which accounts for 75% of production, and Sauvignon Blanc reign supreme here, although aromatic varietals from Viognier and Riesling are also grown successfully here – while red wine styles are largely represented by some impressive Pinot Noir. The region’s characteristics have drawn comparisons with California’s Napa Valley, and its location – between the capital city of Santiago and the chaotic yet charming port of Valparaiso – have made it equally accessible for wine tourism.

As part of the country’s most important Central Valley wine region, which includes the valleys of Maipo, Maule, Cachapoal and Colchagua, Casablanca Valley vineyards are home to some of the country’s most respected wineries that have become regular international award winners in recent times. Casablanca Valley wineries are open all year round, but the best time to visit is between September and June with most wine tourists using Santiago as a base to explore the many sub regions.

The capital city is worth experiencing itself and is overrun by museums, theatres, restaurants and bars. It’s a wonderful place for strolling through ever changing neighbourhoods or lazing the day away in one of the many picturesque parks. There are luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants in well-heeled neighbourhoods like Providencia and Las Condes – while, with its evolving art scene and burgeoning economy, Santiago is teetering on the edge of a modern-day renaissance

A collection of wineries in the area have come together to promote the Casablanca Valley wine route, or ‘Ruta del Vino de Casablanca’ as it is known locally, since many of the estates can be easily reached from Ruta 68 – the main road that travels from Santiago to Valparaiso.

Wine tours through this route tend to stop at several Casablanca Valley vineyards, accompanied by a professional guide and sample premium vintages. The white wines from the region, which include some of Chile’s finest Sauvignon Blanc, are typically denoted by crisp, clean flavours with citrus undertones and an almost saline quality that comes from the valley’s closeness to the sea. Among the many wineries in the region, is the small boutique Vina Catrala, which is set among 400 acres of native forest in Orozco and features a range of fine white wines from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and cool climate reds using Merlot and Pinot Noir.

While in the region, visiting the colourful port of Valparaiso is a unique experience. With 43 different hills, called ‘cerros’, each with their own individual neighbourhood scattered with candy coloured houses tumbling towards the harbour, the city has been endearingly described as a ‘wonderful mess’. Many wine tours of vineyards near Valparaiso Chile also take in the city, which was one of the first to be named a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013 for its architectural and cultural significance.

Visitors can travel from the natural harbour to the neighbourhoods by century old elevators called ascensores, which lead to a maze of cobbling streets and crumbling mansions enlivened by some of the finest street art and graffiti in South America.  If you are interested in visiting the Casablanca Valley vineyards, visit Wine Paths’ local expert for more informational and inspirational ideas before planning an exclusive, bespoke tour.

 

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