Southwest of Santiago lies the Maipo Valley, arguably the most famous wine producing region in Chile and totaling over 10,000 hectares of vine. Though the Maipo Valley is not Chile’s oldest wine region, it is often referred to as the most traditional. Due to its proximity to Santiago, many of Chile’s oldest, largest, and most established wineries have found a home in the Maipo Valley including Concho y Toro, Cousino Macul, and Santa Rita.
Overall, the Maipo Valley is a predominately red wine region and has an 85/15 split of red to white wines.Cabernet Sauvignon dominates – accounting for more than 50% of the wines produced, Merlot accounts for 10%.
Spanning from the east of Santiago to the west of the Pacific Ocean, there are three sections, Alto Maipo, Central Maipo, and Coastal Maipo.
Each offers its own, unique style of wine.
Alto Maipo: The Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alto Maipo is particularly noteworthy. The region’s microclimate is continental, partially because its altitude, reaching heights of 1,300-2,600 feet above sea level, and also because of the amount of sun exposure. The Andes Mountains have a great effect on the vines here because of their elevation and because before the morning, sun can reach the vines it must first rise above the Argentinean side of the mountain range. This area is known for its large, alluvial river stones, which are traditionally known for producing exquisite wines, and make no exception here producing the country’s finest Cabernets. Winds sweeping off the Pacific Ocean add to the cool temperatures and in turn, create a bold, elegant style of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Central Maipo: One of Chile’s oldest winemaking areas. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates vine plantings, but the region’s Carmenere wines are emerging and receiving high praise. Central Maipo is the warmest of the three areas and sees less rainfall than the Alto Maipo and Pacific Maipo, drip irrigation is needed. Vineyards are often planted along the Maipo River, an area that is known for its rocky, alluvial soils that the noble varieties, such as Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon enjoy.
Pacific Maipo: The youngest area of the Maipo Valley. Grapes grown here benefit from the coastal influence of the Pacific Ocean and alluvial soils. Red wines from the Coastal Maipo have a refreshing, natural acidity from the influence of the Pacific Ocean. The vineyards are often planted nestled between smaller, low-lying hills that rise between the Andes and the coast so that they are protected from harsh ocean winds. Because of the region’s coastal influence, this is the perfect place for experimentation with white varieties, most notably Sauvignon Blanc.