Santiago’s Vineyards – a wine lover’s guide
When you think of wine, some world-famous destinations that first pop into your head are Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. However, we are convinced that some of the best wines in the world come from the charming country of Chile. If you want to experience amazing wines and extraordinary landscapes, look no further than Santiago’s vineyards.
In this wine lover’s guide, we will give you some background on why Chile can produce such amazing wine. We will share our insider tips on where to go, which unique properties to stay at, and when the best time of year to visit is.
Why Chile is the go-to destination for exquisite wine
Chile is located on the western coast of South America, sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean, the snow-capped Andes, the arid Atacama Desert, and polar Patagonia.
As a result of this natural isolation and protection, the Chilean vineyards managed to avoid the phylloxera grape louse that pretty much decimated the world’s vineyards in the 1800s. As a result of this, the country is now home to some of the world’s oldest vines which produce more concentrated signature Chilean tasting grapes.
Today, Chile is the world’s 5th largest exporter of wine, with the most famous grape variety being the ever-tasty Cabernet Sauvignon.
Where to go to taste them all
Santiago is the best destination in Chile (and South America), for wine lovers. This is due to the fact that there are various wine valleys around the city. To visit Santiago’s vineyards, we recommend flying to Santiago and exploring as many valleys that surround the city as you can.
Our three favorites are the Maipo Valley, Casablanca Valley, and Colchagua Valley.
Maipo Valley’s the closest of Santiago’s vineyards, situated only 40 minutes away, just south of the capital. The most famous wine of this region is the Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you are looking for an intimate experience, the SANTA RITA winery is the perfect choice. Founded in 1880, this historic property was among the first to pioneer plantings of European grape varieties in Chile. The winery offers various tastings where you can sample some of Chile’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignons as well as tour the vineyards and bodega.
We recommend enjoying a lunch at the ‘DOÑA PAULA’, awarded as one of the best vineyard restaurants in all of Chile.
Carmenere originates from Bordeaux, France, but has become nearly extinct there due to the phylloxera infestation. Luckily, Chile was successful in replanting this grape variety, and today Carmenere is Chile’s 5th most important grape. Take part in Santa Rita’s Carmenere wine tour to understand this exquisite wine’s popularity.
Furthermore, if history interests you, be sure to ask your guide about the historic significance of the wine cellars. It is believed that 120 patriots were given shelter there, after fighting against the Spanish army for National Independence.
The property is also home to the boutique hotel Casa Real. With only 16 rooms and a private 40-hectare park filled with ponds, lush vegetation, and magnificent sculptures, you can enjoy a unique as well as personalized stay. Check out our itinerary with Santa Rita Winery for some inspiration!
Casablanca Valley is located between Valparaiso and Santiago (only 1 hour west of the capital). The valley is one of Chile’s youngest regions and is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay wines.
Since Casablanca Valley is so close to Santiago, we recommend making a day trip of visiting the valley as well as the seaside town of Valparaiso.
With its colorful hillside homes overlooking the Pacific and winding stairways, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is alive with avant-garde culture and vibrant street art.
After taking in the breathtaking views of one (or some) of Valparaiso’s many funiculars, continue on to Casablanca – Chile’s fastest-growing wine region.
One of our favorite vineyards in the Casablanca valley is BODEGAS RE vineyard.
This boutique winery has earned its place as one of the top 50 vineyards of 2019 and 2020. A unique and small family-owned vineyard, Bodegas RE has been producing wine for 9 generations. What makes this winery so unique is its use of traditional clay amphoras as well as its strong belief in innovation. In fact, the ‘RE’ in their name comes from their mission to RE-discover and RE-create.
Following an informative tour of the vineyards, balsamic and artisanal liquor production rooms, you will be able to sample various delicious wines paired with fresh bread and olives.
Furthermore, for those looking for a winery that focuses on organic production, the EMILIANA winery will be the best choice. Lauded winemaker Alvaro Espinoza leads the production and has made the estate famous across the world for its high-quality, sustainable, and organic wines.
Practices at Emiliana are based on two concepts: the development of biodiversity and the absence of agrochemicals (pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers).
In the vineyard, Emiliana uses chickens for pest control and alpacas live alongside the vines to encourage biodiversity. The variety of flora and fauna within their ‘monoculture’ vineyards is notable.
Our tip: enjoy an organic picnic after your wine tasting. Or try your hand at becoming a winemaker for the day while you prepare your own wine blends with the help of experts. A unique souvenir to take back home!
Finally, we recommend the CASAS DEL BOSQUE vineyard. The award-winning family boutique winery was established in 1993. The property offers a tour of the vineyards and cellars as well as a few different tasting options. For lunch, head to the on-site restaurant, Tanino (and make sure to sample their signature empanadas!) Check out our itinerary with Casas del Bosque Vineyard.
Colchagua Valley is located about two and a half hours south of Santiago. This region is very well known for its exquisite Carmenere, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon wine.
There are many acclaimed wineries in Colchagua Valley. However, one vineyard we highly recommend you visit is the VIÑA MONTES.
The angel depicted on its logo represents the premium nature of their wine in the world of Chilean wines – it flies above the rest.
Furthermore, for a delectable meal, their onsite restaurant, FUEGOS DE APALTA, is the perfect choice. The delicious dishes are prepared with different types of open flames conceived by the world-renowned chef Francis Mallmann. Check out our itinerary featuring this beautiful vineyard.
For those looking for luxury accommodation, we recommend VIK CHILE. The hotel itself is an impressive work of art that offers an innovative and holistic wine spa experience in the shadow of the Andes Mountains.
It also features an amazing infinity pool with views of the surrounding valleys. Check out our itinerary featuring VIK.
Finally, if sleeping in a renovated wine barrel sounds like a bucket list item to you, check out Cava Colchagua. A down-to-earth boutique hotel, Cava Colchagua is a real wine lover’s dream come true.
Best time to visit Santiago’s Vineyards
You can visit Santiago’s surrounding wine valleys year-round. However, the peak season is from late spring to early autumn (mid-October to mid-April). During these months you can expect warm weather with a lower chance of rain. Which is ideal for spending lots of time outside among the stunning vineyards!
Our final tip is to visit Santiago’s vineyards in March or early April when the grapes are being harvested. During this time the vineyards are full of ripe grapes which make for amazing photos. Also, if you’re lucky some tours might even let you taste the grapes right off the vines!