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Wines of Santiago, Chile – Maipo Region

In the last travel essay involving wine, I explored the Mendoza region of Argentina and its eponymous capital city. Well, just five hours away by car is Santiago, Chile, the capital city and capital of the Chilean wine region. So, since we’re in the southern hemisphere with a little time on our hands until their summer comes around, lets go ahead and head over the Andes to explore some of the Chilean wineries.

The glorious Maipo Region

Santiago is just a small part of the Maipo Valley wine region, the oldest wine-producing region in the country. The cabernet sauvignon grape makes up almost 60% of the region’s total harvest, but there are also some other grapes represented as well. The most famous of these wineries, at least to me as I’ve drank this wine many a time, is the Concha y Toro winery. Less than 18 miles from the city center of Santiago is the Pirque Wine Tourist Center for Concha y Toro. There you can take a tour of the cellars as well as taste the wines.

Also within the general Santiago area is the Odfjell Vineyards, about 22 miles northwest of the Concha y Toro winery. You are correct that this isn’t a Spanish name, but rather the name of a Norwegian immigrant who started the winery here. When you visit, the tour guide speaks fluent English, so you can understand completely all about their vineyard and the two wines you would get to taste at the end of the tour.

For something close to the city center, you can visit Vina Aquitania, about seven miles away to the east. They have three different Cabernet Sauvignons they have created through the minds of wine makers originally from Bordeaux.

Want closer? There’s Vina Santa Carolina, less than two miles from the city center and near a subway stop. Due to earthquake damage, the winery cancelled tours for 2010. However, they hope to be able to offer them in the future.

There are several more wineries in the Maipo region and finding the winery tours available from a central location in Santiago like the Marriott (with spectacular views of the Andes) or many other hotels (some a lot cheaper) will give you plenty of things to do for your stay. Then again, you can just put your thinking in the hands of a tour guide and just take different tours of the region. What’s the fun in that though? Either way, with mountains, a big city and a load of wine, I’ve just begun to explore Santiago.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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