Nat on Chile Part II: The Regions

November 19, 2023

Chile is a long little sliver of a country that stretches nearly 2000 miles along South America’s western edge. It’s bordered to the west by the Pacific and to the east by the Andes mountains. Were it not for these two formidable natural borders, there may not be a Chile today. Almost 40% of the population lives in the capital city of Santiago. It’s a beautiful city for sure, especially at night.

Stretching south from Santiago is a vast valley that sits between the Andes and the coastal mountain range. The Central Valley or Valle Central is Chile’s big agricultural powerhouse. Next time you hit a grocery store in winter, check the stickers on your produce (especially fruits), I would wager that more than a few items came from the Valle Central.

The wine regions of Chile break down pretty simply. The Valle Central, which stretches south from Santiago holds the three main red wine appellations. Moving south from Santiago, the first and most prestigious region is the Maipo Valley. We don’t see a lot of super high-end wines from Chile in the U.S., but this is where they come from. Think of Maipo as Chile’s Napa Valley. Further south are the two valleys of Colchagua and Curico. These are the regions Cultivate…um…well…cultivates!

Colchagua mostly runs east-west in a little gap in the coastal range. There’s great airflow, great soils and a lot of different aspects (meaning the vineyards face in many different directions). Wonderlust is grown and produced in Colchagua. A small amount of fruit comes from a cooler region to the north, but more on that later.

Curico runs north-south and is firmly situated in the warmest, ripest mid-section of the country. Even if you killed every plant you’ve ever owned, you could farm successfully in Curico. This region produces Copa Cabana, our super drinkable Cabernet-Carmenere blend. Curico was also the epicenter of the huge earthquake in 2009. There is still rebuilding going on everywhere. The winery where we produce Copa Cabana lost one million liters of wine in the quake! Thankfully all of their employees and their families survived.

North of Santiago are two slightly cooler wine regions that produce white wine varieties and a bit of Pinot Noir. Those regions are Casablanca (just north of Santiago) and Limari (a good ways north). We use a smidge of Chardonnay from Limari in Wonderlust. We feel it keeps it refreshing, light and enjoyable.

Below is a super-detailed map of Chile’s wine regions. I hope that knowing a bit more about the people and places that contribute to our wines will in turn contribute to your enjoyment.

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One Comment

  1. Deb Phillips says:

    planning to visit Chile in late winter/early spring - now I have more wineries for our “must visit” list. thanks!

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