The Choapa wine region of Chile is located 400 km north of the country’s capital city of Santiago. Choapa gets its name from the Choapa Province in the southern part of the Coquimbo region of Chile. Geographically, this wine region is formed by a small valley where the Andes Mountains meet the coastal mountain ranges. There are no wineries in this region, but there are plenty of vines planted on the rocky mountain cliffs and foothills. The varietals planted here are mainly Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon with a high level of acidity and low pH levels. The high quality of these grapes is increasingly grabbing the attention of winemakers in Chile for use in their most well-loved wines.
Wines from the Rocky Cliffs of the Andes Mountains
The Choapa Valley wine region is one of the newest wine regions in Chile. It is located in the narrowest part of the country close to the capital city of Santiago. The vineyards of the Choapa Valley are located on the rocky slopes of the Andes, at altitudes of as high as 2600 ft above sea level. This location of the vineyards allows the grapes to reach the best levels of ripeness, resulting in wines that are well balanced.
There is currently only one brand of wine that holds the DO of the Choapa Valley, which is the De Martino Syrah. As one of Chile’s largest commercial wine producers, De Martino has helped the Choapa Valley region gain interest and grown in popularity. The De Martino Syrah has recently gained international recognition for its excellent flavors and quality.
Terroirs of Choapa
Choapa is located in the heart of the Chilean Andes mountains where the climate is cool and the terroir is dry, influencing the grape varietals grown here. The grapes that have proven to grow the most successful in this region are Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soils of the Choapa region are rocky and colluvial that consists mainly of chalk, clay, and silt. These soils are generally known for having low levels of fertility. However, the lack of nutrients in the soil and the good soil drainage system forces the roots of the vines to penetrate deep into the ground in search of water. This process improves the health of the vine and produces grapes that have excellent concentration levels.
Ovalle is an extremely popular destination in Choapa for those who love the sunshine. Ovalle experiences warm and pleasant temperatures throughout the year. The wonderful climate also makes Ovalle a prosperous fruit growing area and the fresh and sweet flavors of the local papayas leave visitors blown off their feet. The natural landscape of Ovalle provides wonderful sceneries for hiking, walking, and outdoor activities. This quaint town is the perfect place to disconnect from life and enjoy the outdoors.
The Monte Aranda Cave Park
The Monte Aranda Cave Park is an archeological site that takes one on a historical journey to prehistoric times. The park tells the story of the aboriginal people of the land and also showcases how the local people and culture have evolved to what they are today. Along with educational value, the park also has extensive hiking and trekking trails.
Illapel – The Capital of Choapa
The beautiful city of Illapel is the capital of the Choapa Province. The city is located along the banks of the Illapel River at the narrowest point of Chile. In 2015, Illapel experienced a devastating earthquake causing significant physical damage and loss of life. It is incredible to see, when visiting Illapel, how the city and its people have rebuilt and restored the beauty of the city. The most popular attraction to visit in Illapel is the La Reserva Nacional Les Chinchillas.
Where the Andes Meet the Coastal Mountain Ranges
Natural Places to Visit
The Choapa region is located in the narrowest part of Chile where two mountain ranges meet. The landscape of the area is extremely rugged and breathtakingly beautiful – a sight to behold for all who visit.
La Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas
The Las Chinchillas National Reserve covers a total area of 4229 hectares of land on which the Chilean Chinchilla is protected. The Chilean Chinchilla is currently in danger of extinction and the Las Chinchillas National Reserve has a number of protection plans to ensure its survival. Within the park, other vulnerable species such as cat, puma, mice and fox are also protected. When visiting the park, there are facilities for picnicking, camping, hiking and walking. The Las Chinchillas National Reserve provides the perfect escape for an educational day out in nature.
Fresh Food Paired with Excellent Local Wines
The Choapa region is well known for its wonderfully fresh cuisine using locally grown and sourced ingredients. The range of exciting eateries across the region provides delicacies for all to enjoy, particularly when paired with one of the excellent local wines.
Carbonada – Vegetable and Meat Chilean Minestrone Soup
Carbonada is a traditional Chilean soup that is enjoyed during the colder winter months. This soup is popular across South America, but in Chile it is prepared using carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, green beans, herbs and diced meat. The soup is served with a generous sprinkling of parsley and is best enjoyed with a glass of wonderful Chilean wine.
Empanadas de Pino – Traditional Baked Pies
Empanadas are a major part of the local cuisine in the Choapa region. In this region, in particular, the most popular pie filling is pino which is a meat and onion mix. The onions are finely chopped and combined with diced meat, raisins, and hard-boiled eggs. Traditionally these pies are enjoyed on a Sunday and served with a good red wine of the year.
Longanizas de Chillan – Chilean Sausages
Longanizas de Chillan are traditional Chilean sausages that are made with minced pork meat, garlic, paprika, oregano and vinegar. This mixture is ground together and squeezed through a sausage casing that is made of tripe. The sausage is then left to dry in the open air or is slowly smoked over coals. Longanizas de Chillan can be found in most local restaurants and are served with beans, spaghetti, mashed potatoes or steamed potatoes.