While many people may be familiar with the famous wineries in Argentina, they may not know that just across the Andes, Chile offers a number of outstanding wineries that are producing award-winning wines. Chile’s oldest wine-producing region—and one of its most prolific—is the Maipo Valley.
Located near Chile’s capital, Santiago, the Maipo Valley has a long history of winemaking dating back to the time of the Spanish missionaries, who used the wine for the Eucharist. In the 19th century, Bordeaux grape varieties (mostly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) entered Chile from France. Today, the influence of France’s world-renowned wine culture can be seen in the outstanding viticulture in this region. The following are three of the best wineries in Chile’s beautiful Maipo Valley.
Concha y Toro
Founded in 1883, Concha y Toro has gained attention not only in Chile, but also around the world, with its wines that are sold in hundreds of stores around the globe. In 2018, Wine & Spirits magazine recognized Concha y Toro on its list of the “World’s Top 100 Wineries of the Year.”
The winery offers a number of different tour options, with its traditional tour passing through the gardens and the estate of the Concha y Toro family’s summer residence from the 19th century. The tour also includes several tastings and panoramic views of Maipo Valley, as well as a souvenir wine glass to take home.
Visitors can also sign up for a tour that includes a tasting of Concha y Toro’s fine wines. The tour allows guests to sample four wines from the winery’s four fine wine labels: Amelia, Carmin de Peumo, Epu, and Gravas Rojas. The tour is led by a sommelier and includes a selection of cheeses to accompany the wines.
Founded in 1880, Santa Rita sources its grapes from vineyards of the highest quality located in some of Chile’s most fertile valleys. With a diversity of terroirs across these vineyards, Santa Rita develops a number of wines to suit all palates.
Building on its long history of making high-quality wines, Santa Rita has adopted the latest best practices in viticulture, from enhanced irrigation and canopy management to block farming and late harvesting. Santa Rita consists of five production plants, with the principal facility located Alto Jahuel, Buin. This facility alone has a capacity to age 19.5 million liters of fine wines.
In addition to offering wine tours, Santa Rita features the Andean Museum at the Alto Jahuel winery near the colonial estate house. The museum is home to some 1,800 pieces of pre-Colombian art, including old wooden moais in the Easter Island room. Visitors can also view various archaeological pieces from the Arica culture, as well as items from the San Pedro culture, including some bright wicker piece.
Santa Rita has earned a number of awards for its wines, including the Medalla de Oro (Gold Medal) at the Global Cabernet Sauvignon Masters in 2017 for its 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Furthermore, its 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon earned an impressive 96 points from Tim Atkin, a Master of Wine and journalist, in 2017.
Undurraga is named after Chilean aristocrat Francisco Undurraga Vicuña, who traveled to European wine-producing countries in the mid-1880s to collect vines to plant in Chile. In 1885, he founded the winery, which emerged on the international wine scene in 1910, when it began making sparkling wines.
The winery makes sparkling wines using the traditional in-bottle fermentation method. Through its Titillum brand, Undurraga strives to make the best traditional-method sparkling wine in the country. However, it also makes excellent wines through its Undurraga Sparkling Wine brand, which has sought to increase the popularity of sparkling wines in Chile.
Undurraga also makes wines through a number of other labels, including Pablo Neruda, which is named after Chile’s most famous poet. The label includes a Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley and a Sauvignon Blanc from Leyda Valley.
Undurraga’s Sibaris Tour gives visitors insight into each stage of the winery’s production process. The tour includes the vineyards, vinification plant, soil analysis pit, and underground cellars. Guests can also view the entertainment garden and sample three “Reserva” wines, after which they can take home a free wine glass.
Those looking for an even more intimate experience can sign up for the Founder’s Tour, which accommodates two to eight people at a time. This tour includes a tasting of four “Premium Reserva” wines, along with a selection of cheeses.
While Chile’s Maipo Valley offers much more than the aforementioned wineries, they provide some of the best wines and tasting experiences in the area. Be sure to watch for the latest vintage wines, as these wineries tend to perform well and earn accolades for their exquisite quality. Also, while visiting the area, take some time to explore a few of the boutique wineries hidden throughout the region for an intimate, up-close experience of Chilean wine culture.