Chile’s history of producing new world wine dates back to the 16th century when the Spanish arrived. In the mid-19th century french varieties like merlot and cabernet sauvignon were introduced. During the 1980s techincal advances in production meant better quality wines and Chile’s reputation as a good-quality, low-cost wine producer became international. The number of vineyards has increased rapidly in recent years, from just 12 in 1995 to over 70 in 2005.
Quick Facts about Chile’s Vineyards
- Chile is the fifth largest wine exporter in the world, and the ninth largest producer
- The most common grape varieties are cabernet sauvignon, merlot and carmenere.
- Chile’s geographical isolation (it is bordered by the Pacific ocean, the Andes Mountains, Atacama desert and Antarctica) has saved it from phylloxera
- Over twenty grape varieties are grown in Chile, mainly a mixture of Spanish and French varieties
- Latin America’s largest wine producer, Concha y Toro, is based just outside of Santiago.
Weather and Climate
Central Chile, home to the country’s vineyards, has a Mediterranean climate. Rainfall increases from north to south in the region and is very infrequent in summer. Temperatures in summer months are usually between 25 - 30 °C and around 10 °C in the winter months of June and July. The central region is popular with skiers in winter and beach goers in summer. Vineyards are visited all year round by tourists from across the world.