The Limari wine-producing area is located 470 km north of Santiago, in the Coquimbo wine region. The area is primarily known for its production of Sauvignon and Chardonnay, as wells as Syrah and Pinot Noir. The combination of cooling breeze from the Pacific Ocean and a hot, semi-desertic climate, makes it possible to grow grapes that result in fresh wines with a distinct minerality. The Limari Valley is also considered an oasis of natural beauty and amazing, green landscapes. Thanks to its fertile soil and climatic balance, the Limari Valley is known of its delicious tropical fruits.
All You Need to Know About the Limari Valley Wine Region
History and Curiosities
The first vineyards were planted during the 16th century, and after years of anonymity, the Limari Valley production experienced a resurgence during the 1990s. Indeed, towards the end of the 20th century, the first grapes of Sauvignon and Chardonnay were planted, and they soon became the trademark wines of the Limari wine region.
The Limari Valley was awarded with the DO appellation by the Chilean Appellation System, meaning that the grapes grown in this geographical area are legally defined and protected.
Chardonnay is the most planted and most praised grape from the Limari wine region. It possesses a decisive minerality thanks to the moisture brought to the grapes by the Camanchaca fog and the limestone contained in the soil.
Climate and Soil of the Limari Valley
The cooling breeze of the Pacific Ocean doesn’t directly affect the dry and hot weather of the Limari wine region, but it influences the vineyards through the Camanchaca, a cooling fog that, every morning, enters the valley from the west and retreats as the sun. As said, the Limari Valley has a dry, desert-like climate and rainfalls are all but common in this area. Vine rows are mainly watered with a drip irrigation system.
The soil is very rich in mineral all around the Limari Valley wine region. This feature can be clearly tasted when drinking the region’s famous Chardonnay. The major consistent of the soil are clay, silt and chalk.
The Limari wine region is best known for its Chardonnay, which scores high in minerality and has a full-bodied palate with fresh acidity. Limari’s Chardonnay is a bold, pretty dry, and soft wine that presents a pale yellowish color. The predominant aromas are those of citrus and tree fruits. In some cases, depending on the position of the vineyard, the wine can also have an oaky aftertaste.
Among the successful varieties grown in the Limari wine region, there is Chile’s signature grape Carménère. This dark-skinned grape has a late-ripening season, and it needs very high levels of warmth and sunshine to grow at its best. If it grows to its best, Carménère develops a strong plum aroma similar to that of Merlot and gently herbs notes similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. This happens because the DNA of the Carménère grape has traces of the DNA of both these wines.
Another good variety from the Limari wine region is Syrah. This wine has a cool, savoury style with a fruity-driven aroma, especially if it comes from the inland areas. Syrah from the Limari Valley has spicy and leather notes, and it leaves in the mouth an oak and blackcurrant aftertaste.
Pisco, Another Limari Excellence
Wine isn’t the only notable alcoholic beverage produced in the Limari Valley. In fact, a notable mention has to be made for Pisco, a colorless brandy made with distilled grape juice. The first piscos were produced with any kind of grape that was available at that moment, while today it is mainly made with Muscat grapes.
The motherhood of Pisco has been long debated between Chile and Perù, where this distilled is also produced in large quantities. However, both countries have developed legal appellations when it comes to the production of Pisco and the origin of the grapes it is made with.
Ovalle is the capital city of the Limari province, and it was officially founded in 1831 as a settlement. Ovalle is a very green city, full of luscious palm trees and parks. All around the city there are bare hills and the famous Limari Valley vineyards.
The main attraction in Ovalle is the Museum of Limari that is located in the old train station and is entirely dedicated to the history of the province.
La Serena – Stay Serene
La Serena is the second oldest city in Chile, after the capital Santiago, as it was founded in 1544. This city is a popular holiday destination, especially during summer when people travel here to enjoy the sun and the beach.
La Serena is a curious place because it has 29 churches, which is a huge number compared to the size of the city. The main one is the La Serena Cathedral located in the main square, Plaza de Armas. Surprisingly, the cathedral is pretty simple and less decorated compared to other smaller churches in other neighbours of the city.
If you visit La Serena and want to experience it as a real Chilean, be sure to take half a day to relax on the Playa el Faro. This is the most famous beach of the city and it is named after the lighthouse that lies in the middle of the playa. The lighthouse is no longer operating, and it is used as a viewing point.
Monumento Arqueológico Valle del Encanto – Do Aliens Exist?
The archaeological site of the Valle del Encanto is 18km west of the city of Ovalle and it is a must-see of the Coquimbo region. The art and the drawings on rocks date back from the pre-Colombian period, from the 3rd century b.C. to the 4th century A.D. The most intriguing characteristics of these petroglyphs and pictographs are the weird and peculiar dancing alien-like stick-figures. Intriguing, isn’t it?
Another interesting form of rock art is the piedras tacitas, a series of big rocks full of holes. These are rocks used during funeral ceremonies and the holes were used to insert food and flowers for the dead person.
Discover Nature in the Limari Valley
Bosque Fray Jorge National Park – Get Lost in an Ancient Tropical Forest
The Bosque Fray Jorge National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve between the provinces of Limari and Coquimbo. The park was first discovered by a friar, Fray Jorge, that arrived at this location while looking for timber. He found it here and brought it back to La Serena to build the tower of the San Francisco church.
The reserve was entitled “National Park” in 1941. The park covers an area of 100 km2 that is bordered south by the Limari River. The great ecosystem and biodiversity of the park are due to the favourable climate and the presence of the camanchaca fog. The fog helps tropical plants and trees grow and survive in the hot climate of north Chile.
Embalse La Paloma
The La Paloma Lake is located 27km south of the city of Ovalle. La Paloma is an artificial lake built to provide irrigation to the dry and desert-like surrounding land. It is the largest reservoir in all South America.
Throughout the years, the Embalse La Paloma became a popular destination for locals and tourists to relax and do some water sports. The reservoir is surrounded by round hills and the vineyards of the Limari wine region are pretty close to it.