Holidays in Wine Country
Colchagua, Maule, Maipo and more...
Welcome to Wine Country
Chilean wine is world famous (for good reason!) and there are vineyards spread across the country, so wherever you’re staying there’ll be the opportunity for a wine tasting trip. But the majority of these are located in the centre of the country, in the areas surrounding Santiago, and it’s these regions which are particularly worth a visit.
From crisp whites like Chardonnay to full bodied reds such as Malbec there are a huge range of wines produced in Chile. In the north the growing conditions tend to be tricky, with some vineyards sitting at altitudes up to 2000 meters while others are located in desert conditions. In the centre of the country you’ll find the biggest variety of grapes and some of the most picturesque vineyards. The regions further south are where the first vines were brought in to the country, and these wineries are a bit more remote with a smaller influx of tourists to them.
Wine tours are a popular excursion for visitors to Chile, so there’s a great selection to choose from, whether you want a day trip to a number of wineries or a weekend to retreat enjoy gourmet food paired with locally produced wine, there is something to suit everyone.
Some of our Wine Holidays
Vines & Volcanoes
Chile Wine Tour for £2450pp
This great 10-day holiday showcases Chile's beautiful wine country, before heading onwards and upwards to the arid altiplano to visit the geysers, salt flats and volcanoes of the Atacama Desert...
Santiago is the best base for exploring the wineries of the Central Region, as this allows you to do day trips to numerous regions all within a couple of hours drive, even the valleys of Colchagua and Cachapoal. For the Casablanca Valley it is also possible to stay in Valparaíso or Viña del Mar as well. Of course, if you want to spend a couple of days staying in the hacienda of a traditional vineyard just to soak up the atmosphere, then that’s not a problem at all.
Further south, the Maule and Itata valleys are a bit out in the sticks, but many of the wineries have hotels attached to them so it’s a good option for a getaway and it’s very peaceful on an evening overlooking the vineyards. Alternatively, Talca and Chillán are both well located and offer plenty of hotel options.
In the north, the Elqui Valley is lucky enough to have one of the cleanest atmospheres on Earth, with cloudless days and nights year round, making it the perfect spot for stargazing. At the fantasic Elqui Domos you can either stay in a dome tent or a wooden cabin, both of which have windows above the bed so you can fall asleep looking at the stars. Plus you’re perfectly placed to visit the wineries and distilleries of the region.
Chile's Wine Regions
Chile's various wine regions offer different characteristics, both in terms of the wines produced and in the scenery and activities you can enjoy.
Northern Regions: Elqui and La Serena
In the north of the country there are vineyards as far north as the Atacama Desert, but they are especially found in the popular Elqui Valley. They have only recently started producing wines, specifically cool-climate Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc, but are most famous for producing Chile’s national liquor, Pisco. These vineyards distil a clear spirit which the Chileans know as brandy, although the Western palate probably wouldn’t agree! The paler varieties are less sweet and similar in taste to some white tequilas, while the barrel-aged varieties are golden in colour with a sweeter aroma and could be compared to cognac. The Mistral Distillery is a great choice if you want to learn how Pisco is made and taste a few varieties.
Central Regions: Maipo and Colchagua
The Maipo Valley, closest to Santiago, is known for its Cabernets and is easy to visit from the capital. Concha y Toro is one of the oldest and largest wineries in the whole of South America and is just over half an hour from the city; it produces the famous Casillero del Diablo line. If you are planning a trip to Valparaíso or Viña del Mar then it’s worth stopping-off in the Casablanca Valley for a taste of Chile’s first cool-climate wines, grown in the saltier ocean soils. This area excels with its whites, including crisp Sauvignon and Chardonnay. One of the best wineries to visit in this area is Loma Largo which is almost a boutique wine producer. And nearer the coast is the up and coming region of Lo Abarca where some of the wineries are just a couple of miles from the sea.
Approximately 100km south of Santiago is the Cachapoal Valley and it’s slightly bigger neighbour the Colchagua Valley, the second being a world renowned wine producing region and a very popular spot for tourists to visit. The grapes grown here are mainly red varieties especially Cabernet Sauvignon, although Malbec and Bordeaux are also produced in this area. One of the country’s oldest and grandest vineyards can be found in the Colchagua Valley, Casa Silva, which is worth a visit to taste its fabulous Carménères.
Southern Regions: Maule and Itata
Further south you’ll find the largest wine region in the country, the Valley of Maule, where a huge variety of grapes are grown, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Carignan, Merlot and Carménère, among others. There are a huge selection of great vineyards to visit in this area, notably Balduzzi, Gillmore and Botalcura. An hour or so further is the Itata Valley, thought to be the oldest and southernmost wine region in Chile, with some of the first vines arriving in the port of Concepción in colonial times.
Getting To and From Chile's Wine Regions
For the northern wine regions, although there are regular buses heading north from Santiago the journey takes around 8 hours. There are a number of daily flights between Santiago and La Serena which only takes an hour. From La Serena there are hourly buses going to the Elqui Valley. Alternatively, many companies offer wine tours of the region so you can travel by private coach if you prefer.
The Maipo Valley surrounds Santiago and is easily accessible by bus or private tour, as is the Casablanca area. Colchagua and Cachapoal are a couple of hours drive south of the capital, and this trip is best done with a tour operator who will pick you up from your hotel and take you to a number of wineries as part of a day trip. Alternatively, there are regular buses but they tend to be quite slow. Self-drive is a good option as the route takes you down part of the Pan-American Highway.
To access the southern wine regions of Maule and Itata, there are frequent buses and also a picturesque train between Santiago, Talca and Chillán, placing you in a good position to explore both these historic wine regions.
Weather & Climate in Wine Country
Chile's Central and Southern regions enjoy a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The summer months are November to March, while the winter months are May to September, when rainfall is quite common.
In the higher altitudes of the Elqui valley, with the Atacama Desert to the north and the Andes to the east, this area has a cool desert climate, with most of the rainfall occurring in the winter months between May and September.
Tailor-made Wine Tours in Chile
All of our holidays can be completely tailor-made, so we can include as much or as little in the way of wine tours as you like. Whether you'd just like a visit to a single winery or a wine-tasting session in Santiago, or if you'd like to make Chilean wine the focus of your holiday, we can come up with a tour to suit.
Did you know?
The first vines in the New World were actually planted in the Peruvian province of Ica, near the town of Pisco. Both Chile and Peru's have a national spirit known as 'Pisco' and today there is fierce argument between the two countries as to which 'Pisco' is the most authentic...