The Maule Valley wine region located in the central valley pf Chile, approximately 250km south of the capital city of Santiago. This wine region was one of the first in Chile to plant vines and the history of viticulture in the region stretches as far back as the times of Spanish colonisation. The Maule Valley is considered the main bulk production wine region of Chile. Along with wine making, this region is well known for its extraordinary natural beauty and charm. It is the perfect place for wine tourists to spend long days exploring the many wonderful wineries that are scattered across the valley and the countryside.
The Maule Valley wine region of central Chile is one of the biggest and the oldest wine-producing regions of Chile. Currently, there are 30 000 hectares of land under vine and the winemakers here tend to be focused on quantity rather than quality.
The large size of the Maule Valle region means that there are many different microclimates across the land that are suitable for the production of both red and white wines. The region is best known for its excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere wines which can be described as spicy and aromatic. The size of the and also means that the terroir is varied from river valleys at low altitudes to high Andean mountain peaks.
The Maule area is cooler than other Chilean wine regions because of the high level of annual rainfall that it receives. Most of this rainfall is experience in the winter months. During the summer months, the level of sunlight received by the vines is extremely high and the days are warm, followed by cooler nights. This extends the growing season and allows the grapes to have a perfect balance of ripeness and acidity.
The Maule Valley has rich volcanic soils which provide wonderfully fertile soils for the vines.
The Sub-Regions of the Maule Valley
The Maule Valley is divided into the sub regions of Cauquenes and Loncomilla.
Cauquenes is located in the southern zone of the Maule Valley. This a cool area where Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Chardonnay, Merlot, Grenache, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Pais grapes are grown. This sub-region is increasingly gaining international acclaim for its excellent red wines. The red wine grapes are normally grown from low-yielding bush vines that are farmed using no irrigation. The soils of the Cauquenes valley are extremely diverse ranging from clay-based to volcanic pumice based.
Loncomilla is the sub-region of the Maule Valley known for the production of fruity red wines using Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grape varietals. The valley of the Loncomilla region follows the course of the Loncomilla River. Most of the vineyards of the region are located on the flat banks of the river where the soils are fertile and can produce high yields. The climate of this sub-region is Mediterranean and the high levels of rainfall help to sustain the vines through the long and dry summer months.
The Wines of the Maule Valley region
The Maule Valley well known for its Carignan vines that are used to produce red wines that are soft and earthy in character with flavours of rich plum and black fruits. These red wines are spicy and delicious to drink. Carignan is not very often made as a varietal of wine, making this region unique in its wine production. The wines produced from these vines are distinct for their flavours of dark fruits, pepper, liquorice and rich savoury spices. The Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon wines are aromatic and spicy and are produced in the largest quantities. The Cabernet Sauvignon wines have aromas of red fruits, spices, berries and plums. They have a high level of acidity and a long finish. Maule Valley Carmenere has a delicious ripe fruit nose with hints of blackberries and cherries. It has smoky and toasted aromas on the palate as well as a long finish.
Even though the focus is normally on the white wines of the Maule Valley, there is also some production of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines in the area. Maule Valley Chardonnay wines are toasty on the nose with aromas of spiced apples. The palate is woody with spicy white fruit flavours and hints of vanilla.
The Gilmore Winery of the Maule Valley was founded in 1990 by Francisco Gilmore. This is a family-run, boutique winery where the philosophy is to produce excellent wines that carry the family brand of aromas, concentrations, and flavors. The winemakers at the Gilmore Winery take pride in carefully studying the land to find the perfect balance in the grapes. The Gilmore Winery welcomes guests for bespoke wine tasting experiences in one of Chile’s most beautiful locations.
The City of Talca – The Capital of the Maule Region
The city of Talca is the capital of the Maule Region and carries all of the characteristics of a charming Chilean town. The main attraction of Talca is its range of historical buildings such as the Intendencia Regional, the Edificio de los Servicios Publicos, the Museo O’Higginiano y de Bellas Artes de Talco, the Museo Huilquilemu and the Mercado Central. Talca is considered the gateway to the Maule region and just outside of the city guest have access to the best of Chilean natural beauty with many hiking and walking trails.
Parral – The Historical City of the Maule Region
Parral is a small city located in the Maule Valley region of Chile. This city was founded in 1795 by the Viceroy of Peru, Ambrosio O’Higgins. It is also the birthplace of the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1971. Parral has a range of natural and historical attractions to visit including the Termas de Catillo thermal baths, the Digua Dam, the Bullileo Dam, Fort Viejo, and the La Balsa recreational area in the Andes. Parral is the perfect mix of Chilean nature and history and is the perfect place to stop along the Maule wine route.
Explore Natural Beauty of the Region
The Maule region is considered one of the most naturally beautiful wine-producing regions of Chile. The region is located in the Maule Valley which follows the course of the Maule River from low riverbanks to imposing Andean mountain peaks. The Maule Valley is breathtaking Chilean natural beauty at its best.
Constitution Beach – The Best Holiday Resort in the Maule Valley
Constitution Beach has for long been considered the main vacationing resort of the Maule Valley Region. The beach resort has incredible landscapes of over 5 km of white beach sand. It is also the perfect location all year round with many activities to keep one busy and entertained. The activities to enjoy at Constitution Beach include sailing, fishing, picnicking, rowing and other water sports. It is easily accessible by train and by public transport. Constitution Beach is the perfect seaside escape in the Maule Region.
Altos de Lircay National Reserve – The National Reserve on the Lircay River
The Altos de Lircay National Reserve covers over 12163 ha of land along the banks of the Lircay River. This reserve offers visitors the most magnificent views of the beautiful Chilean landscapes in the Maule Valley and over the Lircay River.
The reserve was first established in 1996 as a result of its rich flora and fauna. Visitors to the reserve can observe a number of native species including woodpeckers, eagles and condors. Inside the reserve there is also an educational center to learn more about the nature of the area and its natural heritage.
Activities inside the Altos de Lircay National Reserve include walking, hiking, and horseback riding. For those looking to extend their stay, there are also various accommodation and dining options inside the reserve.
The Gastronomy of the Maule Valley Region
The food of the Maule Valley region is directly related to the fertile lands of the region. The wide range of cuisine available across the Maule region, paired with the excellent local wines provide for a wonderful food and wine experience for all who visit and are a true treat for the tastebuds.
Bean Stew – Traditional Porotos Granados
The traditional bean stew of Chile and the Maule Region is known locally as porotos Granados. This stew is made with beans and squash and is a staple dish during the hot summer months. The ingredients of the stew include onion, garlic, squash, pinto beans, corn kernels, salt, and basil. This comforting summer dish is perfect for vegetarians but also a treat for meat-eaters looking to experience true local Chilean cuisine.
Pastel de Jaiba – Chilean Crab Casserole
Pastel de Jaiba is a Chilean Crab Casserole that although originally from Santiago, is popular across the country. This dish can be found in most restaurants across Chile and is a must experience for all who visit. Pastel de Jaiba is made with crab meat, bread, onion, garlic, chili, milk, white wine, fish stock, butter, cream and spices including paprika, oregano and cumin. These ingredients are all mixed together and baked in a traditional clay pot called a pomaires. When the dish is ready, it is topped with grated cheese. Pastel de Jaiba is best enjoyed served with delicious crusty bread and a glass of medium-bodied Chilean white wine.
Chunchules Con Harina Tostada – Intestines with Toasted Wheat Flour
Chunchules con harina tostada are the delicious treat made of intestines with toasted wheat flour. The intestines used in this dish are most commonly from a cow or pork. The intestines are then stuffed with meat paste and animal fat, braided, and fried with hot chili. Once they are ready, they are served with steamed potatoes. This dish is traditionally eaten as a snack on cold winter days and pairs perfectly with a rich and full bodied local red wine.