Travel Guide to Aconcagua Wine Region
Aconcagua is one of the main wine regions of Chile, located 100km north of the capital city Santiago. The Aconcagua wine region runs from the Valparaíso Valley to the Pacific Ocean, covering a length of approximately 100km. The name ‘Aconcagua’ comes from the Aconcagua mountain (located in Argentina), which is the highest peak in the Americas, at 6,956 meters. The peak of Aconcagua is covered in snow 12 months a year, and it delivers essential water to the wine valley below.
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Some Facts About the Aconcagua Wine Region
Climate and Soil
The Aconcagua wine region is a warm, dry area with high daytime temperatures. These extreme conditions might cause vine disease, but the mild and cooler air from the Pacific Ocean cools the soil in the evening and moderate the temperature during the day.
The soil of the Aconcagua wine region is mainly made up of sand. This soil type is common also throughout all sub-regions. The sandy soil has one advantage, it creates a phylloxera-free environment, where grapes and vines can grow very healthy.
Sub-regions of the Aconcagua Wine Region
The Aconcagua wine region was defined by the Chilean Appellation System as a DO (Denomination of Origin). This geographical indication is used to identify the grapes that grow in the Aconcagua wine region and then are used to make wine even outside of the region itself.
The Aconcagua wine region is divided into 3 main sub-regions: Aconcagua Valley, Casablanca Valley, and Sant’Antonio Valley.
The Aconcagua Valley is best known for its high-quality and aromatic red wines. Here, the soil is always naturally irrigated by the melted snow that arrives from the top of the Aconcagua Mountain. Differently from the inland, the Aconcagua Costa area is now specializing in the production of white wines, mainly Sauvignon Blanc.
The Sant Antonio Valley sub-region is located south of the Casablanca Valley. Vine growing in this area is possible thanks to the cool breeze from the Pacific Ocean that mitigates the hot and dry weather. Here, the soils are more granitic, and the vineyards use water from the Maipo river to grow healthy and juicy grapes.
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Merlot
White: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
Style of Aconcagua Wines
Red blends from the Aconcagua wine region, more specifically Bordeaux blends, are very popular in the Chilean wine market. Merlot and Syrah are bold, ruby-red, full-bodied wines that offer distinctive notes of cherry and red fruit, together with a mild floral aroma.
Cabernet Sauvignon from the Aconcagua wine region, and especially that from the Aconcagua Valley sub-region, is a refreshing, bright-coloured, and cherry wine. Tea leaf aromas are paired with a soft smoke aftertaste and a light touch of chocolate.
Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon form the coastal area of the Aconcagua wine region present a strong aromatic intensity.
White wines from the Aconcagua wine region are less notable, but the Sauvignon Blanc is characterised by a pale greenish yellow and a distinctive citric aroma. Hints of herbs and passion fruit are prevalent on the nose.
Wineries in Aconcagua Wine Region
Located in the Aconcagua Valley, the Flaherty Wines winery was founded by two Californians that moved to Chile in 1993. Currently, winemakers at Flaherty Wines produce three red blends with notable fruit flavor. Due to the semi-desert climate of the growing area, the vineyards are constantly irrigated with a vertical trellis system.
Viña El Escorial
Viña El Escorial is a boutique winery managed by Cristina and Rodrigo Carey. They bought the winery from Don Santiago in 2009 and decided to expand their vineyards into two different terroirs. Viña El Escorial mainly produces red wines and fortified wines; apart from the typical wines from the Aconcagua wine region, they also grow new grapes such as Sangiovese and Muscat.
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Places to Visit in Aconcagua
Museo Antiguo Monasterio de Espíritu Santo – Learn about the First Chilean Saint
The convent of the Holy Spirit and its museum, located in the town of Los Andes on the river Aconcagua, is a celebration of the life of Saint Teresa of the Andes. She was ordered a Discalced Carmelites nun in this very monastery but died at the age of 19 after having caught a killer disease.
Lonley Planet described the museum as being “unintentionally bizarre”, because of the presence of wax nuns used to recreate the life inside the convent. At the centre of the cloister, you will see a big palm tree under which Saint Teresa used to meditate.
Museo Arqueológico de Los Andes – Discover the People from the Aconcagua Valley
The Archaeological Museum of Los Andes is dedicated to the history of Pre-historic Chile. The museum was established in 1969 and the first pieces put into exhibition are those from an ancient cemetery found near the city.
The main room hosts a permanent exhibition dedicated to pre-Hispanic culture and people that lived in the Aconcagua valley. Other permanent artefacts testify the presence of pre-Colombian peoples in the same area.
City of San Felipe – The Heart of the Aconcagua Valley
The city of San Felipe de Aconcagua is located in the Valparaíso region. San Felipe can be considered as the wine capital of the Aconcagua wine region.
The main landmark of the city is the Catedral de San Felipe (Saint Philip Cathedral), a red and white building, with a clock tower that dominates the city. It is the biggest church in San Felipe and it was built in 1740, when also the city was founded.
One of the most folkloristic and traditional festivals is celebrated every year in San Felipe: the festival of Our Lady of Andacollo. The event takes place on 24th, 25th, and 26th December, and it’s entirely dedicated to the celebration of the Virgin of Andacollo. During these days, San Felipe is filled with colors, music, and dances.
Nature to Discover around the Aconcagua Wine Region
Serranía del Ciprés – A Cypress Paradise
Located 15km from the city of San Felipe, the Serranía del Ciprés is a natural reserve at 2342m above sea level. The type of cypress that are present in this stunning natural environment are all from the arboreal spices Ciprés de la Cordillera, one of the most ancient in Chile and in the entire world.
The cypresses are in a private and enclosed area because they are a protected species, but you can clearly see them while hiking. The mountain area is accessible also by bikes or by foot. Horseback riding tours are available in the Serranía del Ciprés.
Food to Try in Aconcagua
Chorillana – Get the Energy Before a Hike!
Chorrillana is the typical dish from the city of Valparaíso but is popular in the entire region and in the Aconcagua Valley. The dish consists of spicy sausage, beefsteak, fresh French fries, and two fried eggs on top.
This dish is usually eaten and served during weekends, and it is gives you the energy to climb one of the many hills and mountain tops of this area of the Andes.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables – The Taste of the Aconcagua Valley
We already know that the Aconcagua wine region is a fertile land for grape growing, so you wouldn’t be surprised to know that high quality fruit and vegetables are cultivated in the Aconcagua Valley. Products from this are exported all around the world due to their freshness and fantastic taste.
Among the specialities of the region there are artichokes, avocados, pears, and various berries.
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