Did you know Chile is the biggest producer of Cabernet Sauvignon behind France?
Neither did we before visiting the Central Valley region of Chile. This region for Chile wines includes the smaller valleys of Maipo, Colchagua, and Maule.
Maule Valley was our first stop in Chile and one of the oldest wine regions in the country. Read about our experience here.
With experts calling Maipo Valley the best wine-producing area in Chile, we chose to visit three vineyards that were easily accessible from Santiago.
Join us on a Chile Wine tour in Maipo Valley.
Article last updated May 8th 2020
Table of contents
- Exploring Chile Wines in Maipo Valley
- Concha y Toro – Largest Wine Producer in Latin America
- Viña Aquitania – Boutique Winery with an Intimate Experience
- Viña Cousiño Macul – One of the Oldest Maipo Valley Wineries
- Four Tips To Get The Most Out of Chile Wines
- In Summary
- Chile Wine Locations & Directions
- Looking for More Local Food & Wine Experiences?
- Love it? Pin it!
Exploring Chile Wines in Maipo Valley
On our quest to discover Chile Wines, we explored the wines of Maipo Valley, home to some of the country’s most prestigious wines.
Many of Chile’s top red wines come from Maipo Valley which is described as the “Bordeaux of South America.” This valley is celebrated for its Cabernet Sauvignon though you will find other grape varieties including; Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The experiences at the wineries were all different and we invite you to read on for more.
Concha y Toro – Largest Wine Producer in Latin America
Concha y Toro is the biggest vineyard owner in the world.
This means that Concha y Toro owns over 10,750 hectares of vineyards. This includes 9,133 hectares in Chile (not just in the Maipo valley), 1,154 hectares in Argentina, and 463 hectares in the U.S., where it owns Fetzer and Bonterra wines.
As the largest producer of wines in Latin America, the experience at the vineyard reflected the industrial size of the production.
We took a tour of the estate, which we highly recommend. With us were about 18 other visitors from, Brazil, South Korea, U.K., India, and the U.S.
At the beautiful estate, we learned about the history of their wines. Concha y Toro was established in 1883 by Don Melchor, who was a successful businessman who regularly traveled to Europe.
He took cuttings from the vineyards in Bordeaux and brought them back to his estate in Maipo Valley, where he planted them.
Today, Concha y Toro is a publicly-traded company that can be found on the NYSE (symbol VCO). The family retains 5% of the shares.
Concha Y Toro Chile Wines Tours
Our tour continued to the original cellars named “Casillero del Diablo” (the devil’s cellar). Here we listened to a rather cheesy production of a myth about this line of wines.
Apparently Concha y Toro himself spread the rumor that the devil lived inside of his wine cellars. This was to make people afraid to steal from his wine cellars, which apparently had been in a problem in the past.
Concha y Toro makes several different brands of wines and the most famous are the value-priced wines of Casillero del Diablo.
Marques de Casa Concha Wine Tasting Experience
To get the most out of the Concha y Toro experience, we signed up for a Marques de Casa Concha tour.
This wine tasting experience is a little more expensive than the regular tasting and includes going deeper into Chile wines with a sommelier.
This exclusive wine tasting experience was unique in a couple of ways. First, there were only 5 of us participating in the tasting.
Secondly, the tasting was run by Christina, a trained sommelier.
And finally, we had cheese, bread and ham to accompany the experience.
We tasted four different wines. One Sauvignon Blanc, one Chardonnay, one Merlot, and one Cabernet Sauvignon from the premium line Don Melchor.
The Concha y Toro Wines
Overall, we were not blown away by the Concha y Toro wines. We liked some more than others, and in particular the Marques de Casa Concha wines.
The Chardonnay (Marques de Casa Concha, 2013) was delightful. The Merlot (Marques de Casa Concha, 2013) was complex and easy to drink.
Our final wine tasting was from the super-premium brand Don Melchor, and it was a Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. We both found this wine harsh and full of tannins and were surprised to learn that it retails for $150.00 USD.
Our Impressions of Concha y Toro
When you visit the largest wine producer in the world, there are certain expectations that come with that. The experience felt very industrial and commercial.
It was like a machine with the most frequent words out of our guide and sommelier – “you can buy this at our wine shop.”
The property is beautiful and there is a wine bar/restaurant on site. We enjoyed our more expensive tour with the Marques de Casa Concha tasting.
We chose to visit Concha Y Toro to see the fascinating operations of the “most powerful wine brand.” A fascinating experience and one worth exploring.
Authentic Food Quest Tip: Visiting the largest vineyard in the world and seeing the operations is quite remarkable. Located less than 40 minutes from downtown Santiago, you can take a Concha y Toro wine tourand discover their lesser known wines. This particular Chile wine tour includes a sommelier class to help you understand and better appreciate Chilean wines. Pick up from your hotel and drop off is provided.
Viña Aquitania – Boutique Winery with an Intimate Experience
Viña Aquitania was by far our favorite winery and one that we highly recommend visiting. It is easy to get to via public transportation.
This boutique vineyard is owned by one Chilean and three French owners.
Located at the bottom of the Andes Mountain, it makes for impressive views.
Vina Aquitania Tour
The tour of the winery began with climbing up their tower to enjoy amazing 360-degree views of the property.
We continued with visits to the fermentation room, cellars, and labeling area.
Along the way, we learned about the magic behind Aquitania wines and what makes them so special.
According to our tour guide, the idea behind Aquitania is “to produce high-quality wines in low quantity rather than lots of wine with mediocre quality.”
All the harvesting is done by hand in April/May. While on the tour we saw the labeling done by hand, underscoring the artisanal wine production process.
Only 15,000 boxes are produced each year with 80% reserved for exportation primarily to Brazil and the U.S.
Wine Tasting at Viña Aquitania
After the tour, we were led to the gardens underneath a gorgeous Walnut tree overlooking the amazing Andes.
For the tasting, we tried three Chilean wines. One Rosé, one Syrah, and the signature wine from the vineyard – Cabernet Sauvignon.
We really enjoyed these wines and particularly the Rosé (2014). We ended up taking a bottle with us.
The Cabernet Sauvignon (2013) and Syrah Reserva (2014) were also smooth, rich, and easy to drink. While we enjoyed both reds, we really liked the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with the wines from Aquitania.
Our Impressions of Viña Aquitania
We really enjoyed the experience at Viña Aquitania. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the wines as well as the different wine growing regions in Chile.
It is a small winery, so the tour goes by quickly. However, the reward of the delicious wines in the garden, makes it worth visiting.
This is a must-visit winery in Santiago.
Authentic Food Quest Tip: Enjoy a relaxing day on a wine tour of two wineries including Vina Aquitania. Savor delicious cheese and ham at the beautiful Vina Aquitania gardens while learning about their unique Chile wines.
Viña Cousiño Macul – One of the Oldest Maipo Valley Wineries
Cousiño Macul is located about 20 minutes walking distance from Vina Aquitañia. Given the proximity, we hit both wineries on the same day.
As one of the oldest wineries in Maipo Valley, established in 1870, we couldn’t miss seeing their operations. The convenience and easy access was a bonus as well.
We got there in time for a small and intimate English language tour with one German couple.
The tour started at their old vines, followed by a visit to their antique wine cellars. The final stop was at the private cellars of the Cousiño Macul family.
While we found the tour informative, parts felt rote and mechanical with pieces of information parceled out at specific stops. The experience ended up being a “museum tour” highlighting the “old” winemaking process.
A little disappointing as we hoped for a fun experience.
Wine Tasting at Viña Cousiño Macul
After the cellar visit, we made our way to the tasting room. The tour included a tasting of four Chile wines.
The first was a Riesling, followed by a refreshing Cousino Macul rosé wine. The famous Chilean red wines were next, starting out with a Carmenere wine, Don Matias Reserva, 2014.
The last wine of the tasting was a Syrah, Antigua Reservas, 2012.
As red wines fans, not surprisingly we enjoyed these wines the most. Both the Carmenere and Syrah wines were exceptional.
With Maipo Valley famous for their red wines, Cousino Macul wines reflected that sentiment. We found the two Chile red wines to be easy to drink, jammy and full-bodied.
Our Impressions of Viña Cousiño Macul
Going into it, we had high expectations of this vineyard as one of the oldest in Maipo Valley.
The winery is also still family managed, which was especially appealing.
Tours are offered in several languages including English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Even though our English speaking guide was not particularly passionate, we hope it is different with other tour guides.
Regardless of our tour experience, we enjoyed visiting this historic vineyard and learning more about Chile’s history with wines.
Given the proximity to the other vineyards, we recommend taking the day and visiting other wineries too.
Authentic Food Quest Tip: If you haven’t had Chile wines before, we highly recommend them. The bold red wines at affordable prices are some of our favorite red wines. You can have wines from small local wineries delivered to you at home. Discover more about amazing Chile wines.
Four Tips To Get The Most Out of Chile Wines
Tip #1: If you want a good red wine, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, look for red wines from Chile’s Maipo Valley.
Tip #2: Look for wines with D.O on the label for better quality. Chilean law requires that the stated grape, vintage, and geographical area (Denominación de Origen / D.O.) make up 75% of what’s in the bottle.
Tip #3: Go beyond the popular Chilean wine brands in your home country and look for smaller boutique Chilean wines. One that exports to the U.S. is Viña Aquitania and it is worth seeking out.
Tip #4: If visiting the wineries in Chile, we recommend that you call or email the wineries at least 24 hours ahead of your visit to book a tour. You will find their contact information on their websites.
The wines from Maipo Valley are fascinating and numerous.
While Chile is the largest exporter of bulk wines in the U.S., the market is dominated by just a few brands.
What’s great about exploring the wines of Maipo Valley is we become much more exposed to the diversity of brands that exist.
We didn’t have any bad wines, but there were definitely wines we enjoyed more than others. Our favorites were the reds – Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Have you had Chile wines before? Please let us know in the comments below.
Savor The Adventure!
Chile Wine Locations & Directions
Concha y Toro, Av. Virginia Subercaseaux 210, Pirque, Región Metropolitana.
Direction to Concha y Toro: Metro Line 4 to Las Mercedes, Metrobus 73, 80 or 81 to the winery. (1h30 from downtown Santiago).
Viña Aquitania, Consistorial 5090, Santiago, Peñalolén, Región Metropolitana.
Direction to Aquitania: Metro Line 4 to Quilin, Local bus D17 to the winery.
(1h10 from downtown Santiago).
Cousiño Macul, Calle Quilin 7100, Penalolen, Santiago, Región Metropolitana
Direction to Cousiño Macul: Metro Line 4 to Quilin, Local bus D17 to the winery.
We recommend calling or sending an email to the wineries at least 24 hours ahead of your visit to book a tour. You will find their contact information on their websites.
(1h from downtown Santiago).
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Rosemary is a writer, culinary explorer, and digital nomad. Together with her partner, Claire, they created Authentic Food Quest to help people find the best local food on their travels. For over 5 years they have eaten their way through South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America while sharing the best local food experiences on their website. Authentic Food Quest has been featured on top publications such as Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Honest Cooking. Rosemary and Claire are also authors of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon. Prior to creating Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary worked as a strategy director in advertising for over 15 years.