Tasting The Best Chilean Wines of Chile's Casablanca Valley
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 to the west and the Andes mountain range, and the Atacama Desert to the north and glacial Patagonia down south, the Central Valley climate makes for an ideal soil that’s perfect for growing the French varieties of grapes this region is known for and yielding some of the best Chilean wines: 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 is primarily a red wine region, though their whites are very good. But since it’s the soil that ultimately makes the wine, and the country’s climate and weather is so unique, the grapes needed for reds get extra special treatment from Mother Nature, just as the whites of a region like, say, Austria, reflect the climate, weather, and soil of central Europe.
Chile Wine Tours
If time or budget is a concern, or 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 Wine Regions
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).
TIP: These three wineries make perfect additions to a coastal day trip to the vibrant city of Valparaiso.
The Best Chilean Wines of the Casablanca Valley
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. Casablanca Valley, Hijuelas Nº 2 Centro Ex Fundo Santa Rosa, Casablanca
The Wines We loved:
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. Fundo Rosario S/N, Casablanca
Stay Overnight at Matetic
The property also caters to families with kids, with stables for horseback riding, a pool, and a 10-room “casona” for overnight stays. La Casona de Viña Matetic is a boutique hotel located in a colonial building characteristic of the Chilean countryside of 1900, which was completely remodeled in 2004.
The Wines We loved:
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: on their Casablanca estate closer to the coast which is ideal for growing white and cool climate wines, and the Colchagua Valley, 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. Route 68, km 66 s/n, Casablanca
The Wines We loved:
Primus Carmenère 2012
Neyen Espiritu de Apalta 2009
Stay Overnight in the Casablanca Valley
The Casablanca Valley makes a great day or overnight trip from both Valparaiso on the coast or the capital of Santiago. Matetic Vineyards has a gorgeous 10-room “casona” for overnight stays called La Casona de Viña Matetic. See above for more info.
From Valparaiso, we recommend staying in the charming coastal area of Algarrobo for your stay, just 15 miles from the Casablanca Valley. The Winery Boutique Hotel gets excellent marks for luxury-appointed rooms and a beautiful property. Check rates and availability.
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.