Chile is one of South America’s flagship wine-producing countries. Occupying a thin strip down the western coast of the continent, it is home to a wide range of terroirs, commonly described as a “winegrower’s paradise.”
Chile has been a wine-producing country since mid-16th century, when Catholic missionaries brought the original vines, a Mission grape variety — known in Chile as País — from Spain. Throughout the 20th Century, Chilean wine was limited to a domestic market, but in the 1980s stainless-steel tanks and oak barrels were introduced, marking the start of a technology-driven era and the emergence of Chilean wines on the global stage.
In addition to working to improve Chile’s well-deserved reputation for producing world class Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and (increasingly) Syrah, significant efforts are being made in order to explore new terroirs, especially in cooler climates. This also includes the search for new clones that will adapt well to Chile’s climate and soil conditions, allowing for wines with an authentic expression of their origin to the world.
Chile has adopted a signature grape variety, Carmenere, once widely grown in Bordeaux. It was thought to be extinct following the European phylloxera outbreaks of the 19th century, but was rediscovered in Chile in 1995. Chile remains a phylloxera-free country.
Chile’s combination of unique terroirs, a wide range of climates and spectacular geography provides for a wealth of opportunities for wine tourists of all stripes. From standard wine sampling to vertical wine tastings, blend your own wine programs, visits to vineyards on horseback or carriage, trekking or cycling in vineyards in the shadows of the Andes mountains and harvest experiences are only a few of the many opportunities available. Chile’s world renowned ski resorts, the Atacama Desert and Chilean Patagonia among many others offer opportunities to create an unforgettable trip to one of South America’s “must see” countries.