Itata Valley is a winegrowing area located in the Southern Chile wine region. The Itata Valley wine region covers an area of approximately 100km from north to south. The area can is delimited by the convergence of the Itata and Ñuble rivers and the vineyards are mainly present around the towns of Coelemu, Chillán, and Quillón. The land planted in vines in the Itata Valley is limited compared to other winegrowing areas of Chile. The Itata Valley is known for being close to one of the most famous ski and spa resorts of Chile, Chillán.
All You Need to Know About the Itata Valley Wine Region
History of Wine-growing in the Itata Valley
The Itata Valley can be considered as one of the pioneers of winegrowing in Chile, since the first vines were planted around the 1550s. Wine-producing developed throughout the years, but it remained based on small producers.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Itata wine region was producing mainly bulk wines (Pais and Muscat of Alexandria), but in the 1980s, wine-producers started to put quality over quantity. The production hit a turning point and more fine grapes, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah, were planted.
In the Itata wine region, all vines are planted using the traditional gobelet system, one of the most ancient trellis systems.
Climate and Soil
The Itata Valley wine region presents a cool, Mediterranean-type of climate that is influenced by the Pacific Ocean. This winegrowing region has a higher rainfall percentage compared to other wine areas in the Southern Chile wine region. However, vines still profit from intense sunlight and warm summer days.
Soil in the Itata Valley is predominantly made up of sand and clay, creating an alluvial soil. The debris deposited by the Itata and Ñuble rivers in the valley created a fertile and well-drained land.
The most popular grape in the Itata Valley wine region is Cinsault, which is a dark-skinned variety hardly ever used as a varietal wine. Cinsault is mainly blended with other grapes like Syrah and País. When used as a single varietal, Cinsault is a very dark wine, with strong berry and leather aromas. When blended, the result is a fruit forward young and smooth wine.
In general, the Itata wine region produces several red blended wines from varieties such as Malbec or Carignan. These blends have an unmistakable red berries and blueberry aromas together with very spicy, Latin American flavours.
As it concerns white varieties, Muscat is still the most planted grape as it is used to make dry or semi-sweet white wines. It is also used to produce sparkling wines. The other white wine produced in the Itata Valley is Chardonnay. This wine has a very light-yellow colour and mild, vague flavours of nectarine and melon.
Chillán is the capital city of the Ñuble region and it is located 400km south of Santiago. The city was founded in the 16th century by the Spanish colonisers, and today Chillán is a popular winter destination for skiing and for its natural hot springs.
Chillán is one of the oldest cities in Chile and in order to better discover and understand the history of this place have a walk around the Old Chillán. The old town is built on the first Spanish fort, which was destructed and rebuilt several times. The centre of Old Chillán is the Plaza de Armas Isabel Riquelme; opposite the square there is the Bernardo O’Higgins Monumental Park, dedicated to the “Liberator” of the city.
Museo Claudio Arrau – The Chilean Beethoven
The Museum Claudio Arrau is located in Chillán and it is entirely dedicated to the famous pianist Claudio Arrau Léon.
The exhibition recalls all the most important and significative moments in the life of Claudio Arrau, from his childhood in Chillán to his years in Europe. Here, he became one of the most appreciated piano players of the 20th century.
El Chiflón del Diablo – Deep Down in History
El Chiflón del Diablo is a coal mine located near the town of Lota. The mine was shut down in 1990 and is now considered a national monument. The cave opened in the 19th century due to an increase in the demand for carbon to make steam engines work.
However, the coal mine was no longer needed at the end of the 20th century, but in 2006 it gained historical importance and became a popular tourist attraction. Former miners from Lota take tourists on a guided tour inside the Chiflón del Diablo, explain how they worked and the history of the coal industry in the region.
Nature to Experience Around the Itata Valley Wine Region
Termas de Chillán – Relax Surrounded by Nature
The thermal resort of Chillán is approximately 80km away from the city of Chillán, towards the Andes. The Termas de Chillán centre is both a spa and ski resort and it is immersed in the gorgeous nature of the Valle Las Trancas.
The thermal waters are the real protagonists of this place, together with the snow in winter. The resort has thermal baths filled with sulphureous waters with a temperature of more or less 38°. The pools are open to the public in every season. In winter you can have one of the best experiences by relaxing in the hot water and then roll in cold snow. Believe me, it’s amazing for your organism and you will feel refreshed and full of energies.
Ñuble National Reserve – Immerse Yourself in a Bright Green Paradise
The Ñuble National Reserve is a park located in between the Ñuble and the Bío Bío regions. This reserve is one of the most biodiverse areas of Chile and it is considered to be a sanctuary of nature. Many protected and indigenous species of flora and fauna can be encountered in the Ñuble National Reserve.
The landscape of this huge national park is just incredible. While hiking, you will arrive near rich waterfalls, rivers, lagoon areas, all surrounded by lavish green trees.
Also, if you need some rest from a hike, visit the Peuco Hot Springs. In here, you will soak up all the energy and positive vibes from the forest and the hot waters coming directly from the spring.
Food to Try in the Itata Valley
Papa con Chucoca – For a Great Chilean Meal
This typical Chilean recipe has been passed on from generation to generation since a very long time.
The main ingredient of Papa con Chucoca are, of course, ‘chucoca’, which is dried corn flour and ‘papas’, potatoes. The result is a sort of vegetarian cornmeal mush that can be perfectly paired with Chilean salad, any kind of meat and cheese.
Longanizas de Chillán – Chilean Chorizo
Longanizas is a specialty from the city of Chillán. A longaniza is a sausage similar to the Spanish chorizo and it is usually served in slices to eat with bread. This sausage from Chillás is probably one of the most popular in Chile.
Share about Itata Valley Wine Region:
Soil: Alluvial soil made up of sandy and clay loam
Climate: Mediterranean climate but rainy and cloudy