O.V. Vasylchuk, T.Yu. Prymak

National University of Food Technologies

One of the most unexplored areas of wine tourismis Chile. At the same time this country has excellent wines and tours of one or more of the country's wine  routes. It is good enough reason to visit the country.

Chile has been highlighted as a global producer of excellent wines and spirits. Flavor, color and centuries of experience, are some of the features that make the Chilean wine one of the more popular of the world. The valleys of Chile receive an ideal combination of soil, sunlight, temperature and humidity, which lead to world class grapes and wine. Chilean wines are among the most organic. Due to the dry summer season, Chilean vineyards resist infestation and natural geographic barriers have protected the country from the arrival of phylloxera and other diseases. The absence of these threats, allows producers to grow their vineyards with reduced dependence  on chemical agents.  In 2007,  total exports  of Chilean wine     exceeded $1.256 billion, with destinations to five continents, led by the UK, U.S. and Canada. Foreign  investment  has  significantly  influenced  the  development  of     the

Chilean wine industry, among which are Torres Winery and Chateau Lafitte. Today, Rothschild, Pernod Ricard, Kendall-Jackson, Francisco State, Bruno Prat are among those international vintners with substantial investments in the Chilean wine industry. All of them attracted by the ideal geo-climatic conditions, the promise of premium quality fruits, healthy crop conditions, and a growing demand for Chilean wines around the world.

Chile proposes wine tours around the fascinating world of Chilean wine, fine gastronomy and the natural beauty.

There are many wine routes of one sort or another around the country, but space allows mentioning only the eight most important:Maipo Valley, Aconcagua Valley, Casablanca Valley, San Antonio Valley, Colchagua Valley, Curico Valley,Limary Valley, Rapel Valley. Note that although there are 11 growing regions, three are without a formal appellation: Itata Valley (tiny, east of the Maule Valley), the Eiqui Valley (in the far north), and the Bio Bio&Malleco Valley (in the far south).

About a 60-minute drive southeast of Santiago, in Pirque, you'll find the Concha y Toro Winery (since 1883), home to one of Chile's most famous labels. Here you can visit the villa (1875), a park, the Pirque Wine Cellar and the rows of bottles  in the Casillerodel Diablo (Cellar of the Devil). Their wines come from grapes grown in several locales, including the Casablanca Valley and the Maipo Valley, and  include such favorites as the cabernet sauvignon Casillero del Diablo (which they say is the best value on earth at about $10) and Trio (blended) labels, and single-variety names such as Don Melchor (cabernet sauvignon) and Amelia (chardonnay). This year the big fuss is over their Terrunyo wines (cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and sauvignon blanc), which are getting between 90 and 93 points from the Wine Spectator.

It might make you feel comfortable to know that Concha y Toro was the first winery in the world to trade its shares on the New York Stock Exchange  (since  1994). They work with the Baron Philippe de Rothschild winery in France and Concha is the only Latin American winery member of the Club de Marques, an alliance of some of the world's most prestigious wine brands. Tours operate daily except Sundays and holidays, and you should reserve at least four days in advance. Fee is 6,000 pesos ($11.30), which includes the tour, a gift wine glass and two tastings.

From Santiago, you can easily visit the Aconcagua Valley, about 75 miles north, where you can stop in at four wineries on the Aconcagua Wine Route. Aconcagua Valley is known for its small and medium-sized wineries where  the quality of their wines speaks for themselves. Close to the La Campana National Park and the Termas de Jahuel hot springs, this valley invites outdoor activities.You visit wineries such as Errazuriz, Von Siebenthal, and San Esteban.One of Chile’s most beautiful tour is VinaErrazuriz.The tour includes a visit to the original winemaking facility and a walk through the valley’s hillside vineyards. The unique vineyard and winery San Esteban includes the opportunity to visit the ancient petroglyphs of an archaeological site on the winery property on Paidahuen Hill.

Also easily accessible from Santiago is the San Antonio Valley about  25 miles from Casablanca, one of the newest and smallest wine areas in Chile.There are wineries such asMatetic, Casa Marín, and Garcés Silva.The San Antonio Valleyis known for its production of elegant Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Just 20 km from the Pacific Ocean, the region is clearly marked by a maritime influence and a diversity of soil types that allow for white and red wines of extraordinary quality.

The bigger Maipo River Valley, about 45 miles southeast from the capital, has the greatest grape growing and winemaking tradition in the country, tourism officials say, and also that it is the most famous internally. This area has 17 wineries  producing distinguished red wines and you can also enjoy good rafting on the river here.

Then there's the Cachapoal Valley, 52 miles southwest of Santiago, with eight to ten wineries on the route.

Consider, too, the Limari Valley Wine Route, consisting of three wineries, namely Casa Tamaya, Francisco de Aguirre and Tabali. The area also produces good goat cheese and olive oil.

Way down south of Santiago (124 miles) is the Curico Valley Wine Route, with 15 wineries.

The Maule Valley Wine Route offers daily winery tours from the Villa Huilquilemu, a national monument. The area is about 155 miles south of Santiago, still in the Central Valley. There are 15 member wineries, and this is a good place to explore the outdoors with mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing trips and spas after you savor the wine.

The Colchagua Valley is the home to good red wines ("the country's finest reds," says Wines of Chile), such as cabernet sauvignon and syrah, as well as South America's finest Malbecs, attributed, they say, to the valley's mild Mediterranean- type climate. There are 32 wineries here, 14 of which have tours. The Rutadel Vino  in the Colchagua region, and based in Santa Clara, provides information about the 14 vineyards, with guided tours in English to at least ten. Tours to three vineyards cost upwards from 25,000 pesos ($47.20).

The Casablanca Valley, located one hour west of Santiago, is known for the production of white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. There are wineries such as Veramonte, William Cole, Indómita, Viña Mar, Villard, Casas del Bosque, and others.It is cool climate and diversity of productive zones help in the adaptation of different varieties.

However, all wine tours in Chile last one or two days. It seems to me it is not enough time to discover all the riches and beauty of this extraordinary region.Tours can be combined or expand, introduce some additional excursions and services.


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