Sadly, I have never been to Chile, but would love the opportunity to explore, and particularly to discover the country’s vineyards. Chile has a long history of wine production, with the first vineyards established in the sixteenth century, initially for communion wine, but production developed into an export product by the nineteenth century. Vineyards now range from 32° to 38° South of the equator, equivalent latitudes of between Northern Spain and North Africa, but, the cooling effect of the Pacific ocean, and specifically the Humboldt current running up the coast makes for a significantly cooler climate than the latitude alone would indicate.
The long and narrow geography of Chile does lend itself to touring, starting in the Coquimbo region in the north and making our way down to the Southern region, via the Aconcagua and Central Valley regions. One of the significant stops would be in the Maipo valley, just south of the capital Santiago. It’s in this valley that two of the most renowned vineyards are to be found: Don Melchor, and Viña Almaviva. These two vineyards are at the top of an increasingly large number of wineries, more than 250 compared to about a dozen 20 years ago and Chile is now the seventh largest wine producer in the world.
The other reason to tour the wine regions is that there is, a beauty to vineyards. I struggle to see real beauty in a field of potatoes, but there is something about a wine making region, with vine-covered rolling hills, showing the care that the wine maker is taking. And while we can in no way be described as wine connoisseurs, there is something special about drinking very carefully crafted wine in its birthplace.
But we wouldn’t have to just stick to big Cabernet Sauvignons. Chile is now producing a much wider range, with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Carignan all being grown. The only problem is that, unlike when driving round Europe, we can’t load a car with purchases, so knowing what to buy to bring back a little difficult, but we could just note what we like and then order back in the UK. Much easier.Alternatively, as a sailor, the idea of sailing back is enticing, especially as it would entail sailing around Cape Horn. I’m not sure H would agree to this plan, though.
Travel to Chile and other South American destinations from the UK with #LANairlines.