With just one look, it’s easy to see why Chile's Central Valley outside Santiago is one of the world’s powerhouses when it comes to wine. Sandwiched between the cool rocky coastline and the Andes mountain range, the coastal climate makes for an ideal soil that’s perfect for growing the French varieties of grapes this region is known for: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenère, and Franc. Malbec and Syrah are also widely grown here. If you love wine and wine tours, Chile is a good place to be.
Chile has been producing wines since the 16th century, from vines brought with early French immigrants, and with improved technology and technique, the country is now the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the seventh largest producer.
Chile Wine Tours
If you’re on a budget and want to visit wineries close to Santiago, there are several you can visit using the metro and a short cab ride, like the very popular (and touristy) Concha y Toro Chile. Santa Rita Winery is a popular local choice along the metro and you can also take the Turistik Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour that includes a visit to this vineyard.
But if you’re looking to explore the Chile wine regions between Santiago and the coast, you can take an organized group wine tour or simply head out on your own. Getting around by car is surprisingly easy once you leave bustling Santiago. Having your own car on a self-guided, DIY (drive-it-yourself) wine tour also allows you greater flexibility to spend time and linger at the Central Valley's best wineries.
Chile's Many Wine Valleys
There are so many wine producing regions, valleys, and subregions in central Chile it's hard to keep them all straight. As you explore the country from north to south, it's easy to see (and taste) the unique flavors in both the wines and the traditional Chilean foods that pair so well with them.
The Central Valley closest to Santiago (Maipo Valley and Colchagua Valley among others) have excellent wineries, but we found three wineries we absolutely loved a little further west in the Aconcagua region (San Antonio Valley and Casablanca Valley). These three make good additions to a coastal day trip to the vibrant city of Valparaiso.
1. Casas del Bosque - Casablanca Valley (1993)
Casas del Bosque is a family-owned boutique winery and an easy hour from Santiago. It's also a short 30 km from Valparaiso at the coast and makes a great day or weekend trip that includes both. Currently, their own 245 hectares of grapes in the Casablanca Valley produce a variety of white vines including Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, and red vines too, Merlot, Carmenère, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Some additional Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines, many of which are 35 years or older, come from the nearby Rapel Valley. We thought Casas del Bosque had some of the best Chilean wines we'd tasted and we also loved the property. Apparently others do as well - they were named Chilean Wine Producer of the Year in 2014 at the International Wine & Spirits Competition.
- Pinot Noir Gran Reserva 2013
- Carmenère Reserva 2014
- Rosé Syrah Reserva 2014
2. Matetic Vineyards - San Antonio Valley (1999)
Matetic Vineyards is technically in the San Antonio Valley just south of the Casablanca Valley, where the Matetic family has been using organic and biodynamic agricultural practices to grow their vineyards for almost 20 years. Today, they produce elegant wines in an ultra modern, high tech facility constructed to complement the gorgeous setting. The winery relies on a gravitational-flow design that optimizes management of the grapes brought in from the nearby vineyards. You can tour the facility and enjoy lunch or dinner at their restaurant. It’s a large and stunning property, and can easily take a full day to experience. The property also caters to families with kids, with stables for horseback riding, a pool, and a 7-room “casona” for overnight stays.
- Matetic Syrah 2012
- Corralillo Carmenère 2014
3. Veramonte - Casablanca Valley (1990)
Veramonte's mission is to produce “terroir expressive wines”, wines that nurture the ties of wine to its soil or "sense of place”. Their grapes are grown in two regions: their Casablanca estate closer to the coast which is ideal for growing white and cool climate wines, and Colchagua, well-known for their quality red grapes. The winery itself is a stunning modern facility that houses the latest technology and state of the art winemaking, and their helpful staff do a thorough tasting and education of their premium wines.
- Primus Carmenère 2012
- Neyen Espiritu de Apalta 2009
If You Go
With any winery, check ahead to make sure they’re open as some wineries are seasonal. Some wineries also require tasting and/or lunch reservations as well.