So you’ve been slowly checking off the Southern Hemisphere’s wine regions. You drank Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, Shiraz in Australia, and Pinotage in South Africa. It’s time to add Chile to your ever-growing list. Often overlooked for Argentina, its Malbec-producing neighbor to the east, Chile’s Mediterranean climate–think long, hot growing seasons with cool coastal breezes–makes for ideal grape conditions. Add in dramatic scenery, small vineyards, and tasty vino for a perfect wine escape.
From Santiago, follow the Andean foothills 60 miles north to the Aconcagua Valley. Along the way, you’ll pass fields of peaches, apples, and avocados. The dominating, snow-capped Mount Aconcagua–the tallest mountain in the Americas–is on your right. Vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Syrah, Merlot, and Petit Verdot on your left. The vineyards are watered by meltwater, which streams down the mountains and into the Aconcagua River. Many come here to ski at Portillo, or hike in La Campana National Park and to the Lake of the Incas. But you’re here for the hearty red wine.
Start at Viña Errazuriz. Everyone starts here. It’s one of Chile’s oldest wineries, though you wouldn’t know it from the striking modern architecture. During the two-hour tour, you’ll visit the underground cellars, the gardens, and the vineyards. Taste their Carménère, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon with bread and cheese. And stay for lunch on the patio. Empanadas, lemon chiffon pie, and your favorite glass from the tasting, of course.
Just down the road from Viña Errazuriz, you’ll find Viña von Siebenthal, a boutique winery known for their Bordeaux-style blends that consistently win awards. Taste their Montelig and Carabantes. You may find your favorite Chilean wine here. And then head to hillside Viña San Esteban, where you can tour the winery and hike to see the Inca petroglyphs. End with a three-year vertical tasting of Carménère.
By now you’re supposed to start heading back to Santiago, but you’ve enjoyed the Aconcagua Valley so much that you may need to extend your Chilean wine tour. Chardonnay in the Casablanca Valley? Or stick with the reds in the Maipu Valley?