Travel Guide to Elqui Wine Region

The Elqui Valley wine region is the northernmost wine region of Chile located along the edge of the Atacama Desert. Elqui is best known for its excellent wines, endless sunshine, and clear blue skies. The high level of sunlight means that the vines are highly exposed to the sun, allowing the grapes to mature and ripen perfectly. The vineyards of Elqui extend from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Andes Mountains at the east. Elqui is known not only for its high quality wines but also for the production of Chile’s famous Pisco brandy.

Find out about Wine tasting and Tours in Elqui to enjoy your visit to the region.

Follow the travel guide to Elqui Valley wine regions to discover more about:

Wines produced in dessert-like conditions

Places to visit

Astronomical centers to discover

Local dishes to try

Vineyard at Elqui valley wine region, Chile

High Quality Wines Produced in Dessert Like Conditions

The Elqui Valley is considered to be one of the most important winemaking regions of Chile. The region is famous for the production of Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, and Carmenere wines. Elqui Valley wine region is the perfect destination for those looking to experience the best in Chilean wines.

The history of wine production in Elqui is relatively new and began in the 1990s. During this time, Chilean winemakers began looking at potential sites to plant vineyards outside of the Chilean Central Valley. Due to its excellent location, the Elqui Valley was selected as a site for wine production, mainly along the banks of the River Elqui. This location was selected as the vines have access to the river water for irrigation purposes.

Today, approximately 286 hectares of land in Elqui are under vine. The climate of the region can be described as desert-like, with only 70 millimeters of rainfall every year. The soil is dry and rocky with cooling wines from the Pacific Ocean and the nearby Andes Mountains.

The soil of the region is rocky and thin with good drainage. This allows winemakers in the region to carefully control the yields and the irrigation. 

Grape Varieties

Red Varieties: Carmenere, Syrah, Pinot Noir

 White Varieties: Pedro Ximenez, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

Bright and Aromatic Wines From the Elqui Valley

The wines produced in the Elqui Valley of Chile are known locally and internationally o the bright and aromatic characteristics.

The most commonly produced wines in the region are Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah, although a range of other wines are produced here too. Elqui Sauvignon Blanc wines have intense flavors of elderflower and ripe melons. These flavors are finished off by hints of concentrated citrus fruits. The Syrah wines of the region have aromas of black fruits with barrel notes of mint. These wines also have flavors of toast, chocolate, root beer, herbal fruits, pepper, and oak grain.

Elqui Pinot Noir is known for having aromas of raspberries and currants with earthy and spicy tones. This wine feels fresh to drink with a balanced level of acidity and a great structure. Chardonnay of the Elqui valley carries a punch of white fruit with citrus and oak aromas. These wines are citrusy on the palate with flavors of stone fruit and brine.

Discover Wineries in Elqui Valley to enjoy local wines.

Places to Visit in Elqui

Museo Gabriela Mistral    

The Gabriela Mistral Museum is located in Vicuna in the Elqui Valley region of Chile. This museum was established in 1971 in order to preserve the represent the life and work of the famous Chilean diplomat, poet, and educator – Gabriela Mistral. The exhibitions and collections housed in the museum are focused on the following aspects of Gabriela Mistral’s life: origins, time spent in America, legacy, poetry, and works, public life, and spirituality. The Gabriela Mistral Museum offers visitors a range of cultural activities and guided tours in order to learn more about this Chilean revolutionary.

Mausoleo Gabriela Mistral – The Mausoleum of Gabriela Mistral

The mausoleum of the famous Chilean poet and writer Gabriela Mistral can be found in the town of Montegrande in the Elqui region of Chile. This location has been selected for the mausoleum as it is where Gabriela Mistral (born Lucila Godoy) spent most of her childhood years. The mausoleum was declared a national monument in 1961. For visitors to the mausoleum there are a number of guided tours on offer that take one to the mausoleum itself and to the adjacent museum.

Vicuna – The Heart of the Elqui Valley

The town of Vicuna is considered to be the urban center of the Elqui Valley. This town was founded in 1821 and has some of the most beautiful landscapes of the Elqui region. It is known for its extraordinary architecture including the Bauer Tower and the Parroquial church. Other attractions to visit in Vicuna include the Virgen Hill Balcony, the Municipal Observatory of Cerro Mamalluca, the main town square, and the Pisco Chapel. Vicuna is a wonderful town to visit during any season and has a range of excellent tourism services including a wide range of accommodation, restaurants, and outdoor activities.

The Land of the Stars

The Elqui Valley region is most well-known for its skies filled with bright stars. Visit this valley for wonderful nature, not only during the day but at night too.

Alfa Aldea Elqui Astronomical Centre  

Astronomical observation and excellent hotel service

The Alfa Aldea is an astronomical center and hotel that is located in the Elqui Valley. Not only is this an astronomical center where one can learn about the skies, but also an excellent hotel offering the best in Chilean hospitality. During the day, visitors are taken on tours and shown how to use radio telescopes that capture solar wines. At night, guests are given the opportunity to view the incredible star filled skies through telescopes and enjoy moonlit hikes. The adventure ends with a wonderful stay in the comfortable hotel which offers excellent meals and hospitality.

Astronomical Observatories in north of Chile
Mamalluca Observatory  

The epicenter of Elqui astronomical tourism

The Mamalluca Observatory is an astronomical observatory that is located in Vicuna in the Elqui Valley. The observatory was opened in 1998 and is today one of the region’s most visited astronomical attractions. The observatory offers visitors a two-hour guided tour experience. There are also night observation tours which provide the opportunity to learn more about the night sky and observe the magical stars of the region.

Hidden Gem – Take a Cosmic Trip to Cochiguaz

The small center of Cochiguaz is considered the new age capital of Northern Chile. This town is located in a secluded valley and is known for its concentration of cosmic activities, colliding energies, healing powers, and regular UFO sightings. For those who are more traditional and don’t believe in the cosmic side of life, it is also a beautiful valley with many outdoor activities including hiking, walking and horseback riding. During the winter months, there is often snow in Cochiguaz so for those visiting then, remember to pack warm clothes.

El Jardin Japones De La Serena 

The Japanese garden of La Serena is a wonderful garden oasis located in La Serena in the Elqui Valley. This garden is made up of various sections, each with its own original design. Inside the park are a collection of streams and bridges and a lagoon surrounded by colorful tends. The Japanese garden of La Serena is well known for its range of exotic plants and animals including cherry blossoms, turtles, and goldfish. There are also a number of events hosted in the garden such as the Japanese Arts and Culture day and musical events hosted by the Antenna Symphony Orchestra.

The Delicious Cuisine of Elqui

The cuisine of the Elqui Valley is filled with the flavors of the traditional Spanish, Chilean and Mapuche cultures. Elqui provides a wonderful gastronomical experience for all visitors.

Arrollado Huaso – Peasant style Pork Roll

For local Chileans, the smell of freshly cooked arrolado huaso means that winter is approaching. The ingredients of this pork roll include minced pork meat, sliced bacon, pepper, garlic and cumin. These ingredients are then rolled in pork skin and chili pepper sauce and tied with string. The roll is then cooked in a broth, giving off the most delicious and inviting smell. To eat like the locals enjoy a wonderful serving of arrolado huaso in one of the many local cafes and restaurants across the Elqui Valley.

Ajiaco – Chilean Meat Soup

Ajiaco is a soup that is normally made with the leftover meat of a barbecue. In Chile, this is considered the perfect dish to cure a hangover! The base of the meat is a spicy broth to which the diced barbecue meat, potatoes, onions, hot chili peppers, salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin are added. Ajiaco is the perfect cure after a day spent enjoying the best of the local Chilean wines.

Caldillo de Congrio – The Dish from the Poetry

The local Chilean dish of Caldillo de Congrio    was made famous by the well-known Chilean poet Pablo Nedura when he wrote about the dish in his poetry. Caldillo de Congrio is a traditional eel soup that is light and invigorating. The dish can be prepared using a variety of methods, but it is always served steaming hot in a traditional clay dish accompanied with clams, mussels and an excellent Chilean white wine. The perfect end to a beautiful Summer’s day.

Chilean Ajiaco

Share about Elqui Valley Wine Region:

Region Highlights

Surface: 286
Soil: Rock, chalk, silt and clay
Climate: Sunny and desert like
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Map of Wineries in Elqui wine region

Discover the long wine tradition of Elqui and discover some of the best wineries in this region

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List of Wineries in Elqui wine region

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