The art of wine production from Chile is quite hybridized. Spanish immigrants planted the first vineyards in the 16th century. The wave of immigrants, mostly Italians, in the 19th century brought their wine tradition with them. As an addition to this international brand, the climate in Chile is extremely favorable for growing Bordeaux varieties of grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. A few regions in Chile are ideal for growing Riesling, due to conditions that are very dry – the flavour is similar to German Steinwienu.

In short, Chilean wines are very cosmopolitan, which is quite interesting for this relatively isolated country, surrounded by the Andes on one side and Pacific on the other. High cliffs protect a larger part of the ground on which vineyards are grown from humidity and the mild Pacific climate protects it from excessive heat. The best grapes are grown in the central region and in the northern provinces grapes are used for the Chilean brandy Pisco, while the southern provinces are used for growing Paisa and Moscatela – grapes reserved for local markets.

Chile is a relatively new destination in the export market because these types of grapes are unknown outside of Chile. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile were accepted on an international level twenty years ago, but the export was irregular and in small quantities. Only in 1980 did the Chilean wine industry turn serious and the production of wine was doubled. Foreign investments had an enormous impact on this industry.

Wines from Chile have different names, which are sometimes compatible to the name of the region and sometimes to the name of the entire area from which it is derived. Maipo is the region where most vineyards are located; Aconcaqua is north of Santiago and has the warmest climate, which is ideal for growing high quality grapes; Casablanca, also close to Santiago, is known for its white grapes.

Many Chilean white wines resemble the cheaper Californian wines, while the red wines are of much better quality. These wines have a lot of potential and in a few decades Chile might become a significant producer of world class wines.

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