Chile has gained a reputation as the Napa Valley of the Southern Hemisphere, and it’s an agricultural mainstay as far as supplying wines and excellent produces to many different locales throughout the world. Travelers have a variety of high quality wine tours to try, both in Chile’s urban centers and further out into the beautiful farm country. Since Chile’s seasons are opposite those north of the equator, the best times to visit the Chilean wine country are during the peak growing season between October and February, or during the grape harvest season from March to May.
Chilean Wine Country
Before departing on any wine tour upon arriving in Chile, the first recommended stop is the thriving, picturesque city of Santiago. It’s situated between the Andes mountain range to the east and the coastline to the west. Santiago’s known for deep red, medium- to full-bodied red wines, and there are plenty of stops around the city to sample each of them. Throughout their stay in this country, travelers are encouraged to try the national nightcap called a pisco sour. Some other recommended spots in and around Santiago include the shopping district called Bellavista and the Providencia neighborhood that’s known for its restaurants.
One of the most beautiful and popular wineries in Chile is Lapostolle’s Clos Apalta Winery, which is located in the Apalta Valley. The Lapostolle family arrived in this region in 1994 and has since established a must-see on any Chilean winery tour. This winery and several others also house wine libraries that give visitors a great opportunity to learn more about the wine-making process. During Chile’s warmer months of October to March, the local climate is comparable to that of summers in the San Francisco wine country much further north.
This South American country is also popular for its ski resorts, and a visit to the Chilean wineries is a great addition to any ski trip. July to September is the top season for both skiing and wintertime wine-tasting tours. Grape harvests during the spring can make for some enjoyable wine tours as well.
The Signature Chilean Grape
The Carménère grape has become the country’s signature grape ever since frost and cold snaps nearly wiped out crops of them in the countryside of France. It was rediscovered growing in the remote country of Chile and has since become a staple for creating rich merlots and cabernet wines at each of the wineries throughout the country. During the peak growing season for this grape and other types, the lush scenic wine country is worth the views alone. Another highly recommended section of the country is the Lolol region, which has a number of hotels attached to wineries. Many of these offer package deals on wine tours for hotel guests. This part of the country has a mild climate and is known for sustainable organic practices of farming.
The Colchagua Valley is another great region for wine tours, and one popular spot is the city of Santa Cruz. The area boasts charming vineyards with varieties of Chilean wines, many of which are undiscovered gems for wine enthusiasts. One favorite local place to stay is the Hotel Santa Cruz, and visitors can enjoy a nearby chairlift ride that gives a perfect view of the vineyards throughout this valley. A well-known restaurant in the Colchagua region is called the Opera, and Santa Cruz also offers a variety of diverse neighborhoods to explore. The valley’s wineries boast some of the most diverse uses of the Carménère grape, and local wineries have tastings that feature Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir all made from varieties of this grape. Some lesser known Chilean wines include Petit Verdot, País, and Carignan.
A final recommended wine tour stop is the Providencia district, which is located in the capital. At the Aqui Esta Coco seafood restaurant, visitors get the chance to pair pinots and sauvignon blancs with some of the country’s best seafood. Tours and travel packages are available throughout the year, and visitors are encouraged to book their spots early because they fill up fast, especially during the country’s peak growing and harvesting seasons for grapes. Many wine enthusiasts have added this country as one of their top destinations for tours and tastings.