Chile has a long history of producing wine that dates back hundreds of years before drawing inspiration from the expertise of European settlers, but it wasn’t until the turn of this century that the country was accepted into the fold of premium international wine makers.
Chile is now the world’s fifth largest wine producer, with a well-deserved reputation for its signature Cabernet Sauvignon blends that can compete with some of those from Bordeaux – while remaining outstanding value by comparison.The narrow strip of land that is wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains has been attracting scores of wine makers seeking to take advantage of the high altitudes and enviable conditions for viticulture that are abundant across the country.
Chile’s wine regions can essentially be divided into three distinct sections: North, Central and South. There are now over 100 wineries spread across the country, producing a diverse range of wines from grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Carmenere.Most of the country’s most revered wineries are located in the influential Central Valley, while the north and south regions are still being developed using some innovative wine making techniques.
The area north of Santiago, is dominated by the Casablanca Valley – the first of the newer wine regions that have been established, which produces fine Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc whites in some parts and Merlot and Pinot Noir from the more mountainous section.Since it lies between the must travel cities of the capital and Valparaiso, wineries in the area have united to create the Casablanca Valley Wine Route since they are easily accessible from the ‘Ruta 68’ main road.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise exclusive tours of northern Chile, which can include elaborate tastings at a Casablanca Valley or Valapraiso winery, luxury accommodation, fine dining experiences and some unique activities.Although Chile is typically associated with red wines, the Casablanca Valley is predominantly a white wine region, which shares similar conditions to California’s Napa Valley. The hills of this cool climate region are often clouded by mists that arrive at night and linger until the next day’s afternoon – encouraging the development of distinctively crisp and citrus flavour white wines from largely Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc as well as aromatics such as Riesling and Viognier.
That is not to say that red wines are completely ignored, Merlot and especially Pinot Noir are successfully grown here too. A visit to a typical Valapraiso winery will involve a guided tour of the vineyards and cellar before the opportunity of sampling several premium vintages – often accompanied by food pairings featuring local cuisine.Meanwhile, the port city of Valparaiso is a unique destination that deserves a visit in between plotting a course of wine tasting through the country. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003, the city is made up of 43 different hills that can be reached from the natural harbour below using ancient funiculars.Each hill, or cerro, has its own identity and neighbourhood – typically characterised by candy coloured houses, crumbling colonial architecture and some of South America’s finest street art.
Our tour of the Casablanca Valley and Valparaiso, includes a visit to the Catrala boutique winery, which is set among 400 acres of native forest, as well as an opportunity to explore Valpo’s labyrinth of streets before a meal with stunning views over the ocean.All of our private tours can be tailor made to meet your exact requirements, ensuring every detail is taken care of before you arrive. If you are interested in sampling exquisite vintages from the Casablanca Valley and visiting a Valapraiso winery, contact Wine Paths for more inspirational ideas.
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