In the last twenty years Chile has taken the world of wine by storm. Chile exports wine all over the world and some vineyards, like Concha y Toro, have become household names in many countries. Chilean wines have won top awards at every international competition. This revolution began in the central valleys like Colchagua and Curico and has spread out across the country.
Colchagua is blessed with a warm and dry climate, perfect for producing many grape varieties. The valley is irrigated by the Tinguiririca River that flows from the foothills of the Andes through the 900,000 hectares of cultivated land to the ocean.
The valley offers a range of micro-climates ideal for vineyards, and a growing number of wineries that produce excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and many good Carmenere and Malbec wines.
An hour north of the Colchagua Valley is the Casablanca Valley, where the wineries produce whites that in the last couple of years have started following the better known reds to international recognition.
Vineyards were planted in El Norte Chico early in the days of the Spanish colony, but the grapes were largely used for making Pisco, the national spirit, and a sweet fortified wine know as Pajarate. However, the ideal dry sunny conditions have inevitably led to vineyards focusing their attention on more sophisticated international tastes. As a result, in the last few years, wines from the Limari Valley have started to eclipse the big names from the Colchagua Valley by taking top honours at Chile's wine awards.
Besides the high quality of the wines now produced in this region, the joy of visiting the vineyards here in this part of Chile is the setting in the Limari Valley. The fertile valley, the bread-basket of the north of Chile is alive. The local market in Ovalle is packed and piled high with oversized fruit and veg, herbs, succulent olives, fresh goat's cheese and giant river prawns. The vineyards are small scale and personal where the owners are proud to show you round and tell you about their wine and how they make it.