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Home Wine Regions Wine from Chile

Wine from Chile

As a wine region, Chile is truly blessed. It has a Mediterranean climate that is similar to the climate in California and France, and it is located south of the equator. Chili's summer months are November to March, which means wine producer's grape harvest season is during the off-season in other wine producing countries. This puts Chilean wine producers at an advantage because they can fill the demand for the market when others are unable to do so.

The first wine growers came to Chile in the 1550s. By the middle of the 1700s, the country was exporting Sauvignon and Merlot. However, the wine making industry in Chile took a dip in the middle of the 1900s, and inferior wines were produced. However, Chilean vintners began producing world-class wines once again in the beginning of the 21st century.

Chile's wine region has grown from 12 wineries to more than 70 to date. The area isn't just blessed with great weather, it is also blessed with a unique geography. In fact, it has escaped the phylloxera louse, a pest that caused considerable devastation to thousands of vineyards in Europe. While France and other wine producing countries in Europe were rebuilding and recovering in the 1870s, Chile experienced a boom -- they were exporting their stock to other countries.

Much of the grape varieties grown in Chile are  varieties grown in France: Semillion, Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc. German grape varietes are also grown here, such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

Red wines are Chile's most notable exports. Chile is, in fact, the fourth largest wine exporter to the United States. In 1998, Chile exported 5.3 million wine bottles to the US.

Many of the premium wines from Chile were from grapes grown in vineyards where the soil was poor. Thanks to modern techniques in pruning, Chilean wine producers were able to grow grapes that had intense flavors. Chile's vintners added fermenting tanks made of stainless steel alongside the French oak barrels, catapulting their wines to world-wide recognition.

Although Chile's cultivation area covers only 2,500 hectares of land, the country is able to produce one of the best Syrahs in the world. Chili's Syrah from the cool Elqui Valley is envied by vintners from California to Australia. The Syrah from the warm Colchagua region is fruity and can hold its own with France's Hermitages.