The Rapel Valley wine region of Chile is situated approximately 180 km south of the capital city of Santiago and 45 km from the coast. Rapel is one of the largest valleys in Chile and one of the country’s most significant winemaking regions. In total, Rapel produces around a quarter of the total wine made in Chile. The warm and dry climate of the Rapel Valley allows for the production of a wide range of different wines which can please many different wine drinkers who visit. The range of wines produced here includes easy and affordable easy-drinking wines to some of the most expensive and prestigious wines in Chile.
The first vines of the Rapel Valley wine region were planted in the 1500s when the Pais was planted. Later, during the mid 1800s, many different grape varietals were imported to Chile from France including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon which is today typical of the Rapel Valley. Today, these grape varietals are the main types of grapes used for the production of a variety of red wines. Along with these, there are also smaller areas planted with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The low pressure of the nearby ocean has a direct influence on the climate of the Rapel Valley. This influence brings rain during the winter months and strong winds in the summer. These conditions create different microclimates across the valley and night winds that cool the grapes on the vines. The unique climatic conditions of the Rapel Valley allow for the production of a wide range of wines with vastly different flavours, tastes and characteristic.
The soil of the Rapel Valley is mainly volcanic and contains large sections of granite rocks that have formed from glaciation and volcanic eruptions. In the different regions of the valley, other soil types such as clay, loamy clay, and sandy soils can be found and differing depths.
Viña Vik Winery
Vina Vik Winery, a World-Class Wine Estate from Rapel Valley, Chile. Book a visit to the winery via our direct booking option here.
The sub regions of the Rapel Valley
The Rapel Valley has two subregions, the Colchagua and the Cachapoal valleys.
Both of the sub regions of the Rapel region are distinctly different from each other and the wines produced in them are labelled as such.
In the Cachapoal Valley most of the vineyards are located in the east. It is here at the foothills of the Andes that there is well drained soil and an excellent sheltered location for viticulture.
The vineyards of the Colchagua valley are mainly situated in the west of the valley where they are exposed to the cooling winds of the Pacific Ocean. The microclimate here gives the grapes and the wines that they are used in, an elegance and wonderful balance of fruitiness and acidity.
The Rapel Valley is best known for the production of red wines using the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec varietals. Despite this, there are also smaller areas that produce white wines such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The red wines of the Rapel Valley are full bodied and spicy. The Carmenere of the region has an intense deep red and violet colour. This wine has strong and impressive aromas of coffee, wildflowers, smoke, black olives and red peppers. These flavours are ended with delicate, well rounded and soft tannins. Rapel Carmenere has the perfect balance of soft tannins, body and oak. This is perfectly complimented by flavours of ripe blackberries, plums and vanilla. The nose of the wine is elegant with a strong character. When drinking, it provides excellent balance on the palate with a long and lingering acidity.
The Cabernet Sauvignon of the Rapel Valley region is lighter in colour and less tannic than the other red wines of the region. It as juicy flavours of plums, black cherries, smokey bell peppers and mint.
The vision of the Close de Luz Winery in the Rapel Valley is to blend innovation with traditional Chilean wine making techniques. The winemakers at Close de Luz strive to make fresh wines with a natural level of acidity and lower levels of alcohol. The family at Close de Luz welcome visitors to enjoy tours of the winery paired with local delicacies to experience true Chilean hospitality.
The Polkura Winery was born out of the estate winemaker’s deep passion for Syrah. The winery was first established in 1998 and today covers 12 hectares of land in the Rapel Valley. The wines of the Polkura Winery have won numerous awards in Chile and internationally for their excellent quality and outstanding taste.
The village of Santa Cruz was once upon a time a sleepy rural village. Today this hidden gem is considered one of the hippest and chicest places to visit in Chile. The growth in popularity of Santa Cruz is a direct result of the booming wine industry in the Colchagua Valley, which is known for making some of the most well-respected Chilean wines. Santa Cruz has a wonderfully charming central plaza which is surrounded by buildings of both traditional and modern architecture. Must see sights when visiting Santa Cruz are the Vina Montes winery, the Iglesia Parroquial church, the Museo de Colchagua and the Museo San Jose del Carmen de El Huique.
Museo de Colchagua
The Colchega Museum first opened its doors in 1955 and takes visitors on a journey of the history of the planet and civilization in South America. The museum has 8 main sample rooms that take visitors back 600 million years ago to the beginning of life. From here the rooms continue to the development of the Americas, the development of pre-Hispanic cultures, the arrival of the Europeans in South America and final ending with life in the twentieth century. Along with the sample rooms there are 9 themed pavilion areas with various historical displays. The Colchega Museum hosts various events throughout the year such as night tours, adventure tours and educational lectures. The museum is open to welcome guests from Tuesdays to Sundays and is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the local history and culture of the region.
Rancagua – Where the Countryside Meets the City
The small town of Rancagua is there the Chilean countryside meets vibrant Chilean city life. The town oozes with local history and is the site at which various battles for Chilean independence took place. Along with its rich history, it is also well known for its many vineyards and excellent award-winning wines. One of the greatest attractions in Rancagua is the Sewell Mining Camp, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was a mining camp over 100 years ago. To the local residents Camp Sewell is known as the city of the stairs with its winding staircases and colourful buildings.
Other attractions not to be missed in Rancagua are the Isla Negra, Matanzas, Zapallar, the Robinson Crusoe Island and Pichelemu.
Hidden Gem – The Magical Rapel Lake
The majestic Rapel Lake is an artificial reservoir built in 1989 and covering an area of 80 square kilometers of land. The lake resembles a postcard and is surrounded by sleepy rural villages. Tourism is one of the most popular activities at the Rapel Lake and this is evident by the number of summer lake houses and restaurants at the shore. Along the lake there are plenty of activities to keep one entertained including yachting, windsurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, fly fishing, sailing, hiking and mountain biking. It is also home to the Marina Golf Rapel, a 9-hole golf course with breathtaking views. For those looking for the perfect escape from the city there are a number of accommodation options along the lake from rustic cabins to luxurious hotels. The Rapel Lake is the perfect getaway in the heart of the Rapel Valley wine region.
The Endless Valley of Central Chile
The Rapel Valley is the largest valley in Chile, through which runs the magnificent Rapel river, dramatically dividing the valley into two. This natural wonder of Chile is the perfect place to explore and enjoy the true wonders of nature.
Rio los Cipreses National Reserve
The Rio Los Cipreses National Reserve is an area of protected land in the Rapel Valley that is spread over 36 882 hectares. The reserve was formed as a result of volcanic, fluvial and glacial phenomenon and is a true wonder of nature. Along the reserve runs the Los Cipreses river as well as a number of small lagoons. The best time to visit the Rio Los Cipreses National Reserve is from September to December when the weather is at its best. For snow lovers, from June to July the peaks are transformed into a snowy landscape. Activities inside the reserve include dining, camping, walking, horseback riding and hiking. Overnight accommodation is available at the Termas de Cauquenes hot springs.
Pichilemu – The Surfer’s Paradise of South America
Pichilemu is a beach resort located in the Rapel Valley. This resort is made up of 22 villages and one urban center. The beaches of Pichilemu are by far its main attraction and host a number of international surfing events every year. Along the beaches are extraordinary cliff faces and rock formations where one can relax and admire the crashing waves for hours on end. Besides surfing, Pichilemu offers visitors the chance to enjoy a range of other water sports including kitesurfing, windsurfing and sailing. After a long day in the water, what better way to end it than with a horse drawn carriage ride through the quaint town centre. Pichilemu is where countryside the ocean and the best of Chilean cuisine meet for the perfect holiday experience.
Termas del Flaco – Where the Earth Meets the Sky
Termas del Flaco is a hot springs and thermal bath resort in the Rapel Valley. This resort is located at an elevation of 1 776m above sea level in the heart of the Andes Mountains. When visiting the hot springs and baths there is more to just enjoying the hot and healing waters. The area has a number of walking and hiking paths leading to wonderful waterfalls with breathtaking views. The most popular place to stay in the resort is the Hotel Termas Del flaco which offers a range of room types to suite every traveller.
Visitors to the Termas del Flaco should be mindful of the steep and winding one-lane road leading to the resort which is close from May to November due to heavy snow at this time of the year.
Fresh, Earthy Food of Rapel Valley
The cuisine of the Rapel Valley is testament to the region’s long history of agriculture. Gastronomy in the Rapel region is strongly linked to the fresh produce and wonderful wines of the region. This results in the perfect pairings for all food and wine lovers.
Chancho en Piedra – Traditional Chilean Salsa
In the Rapel Region, Chancho en Piedra is also referred to as the ‘pig in stone’ as to make it, the ingredients need to be ground together in a stone mortar. Despite the name, the dish does not contain any pork. The ingredients of the dish are garlic, salt, peppercorns, oregano, chili petters, onion, tomatoes, red wine and olive oil. To make Chancho en Piedra, first the tomatoes are boiled, peeled and seeded. Following this the rest of the ingredients are all mixed and ground inside a stone mortar to make a smooth paste. Once ready, the sauce is traditionally served with bread for dipping or with cheese.
Palta Reina – Delicious Chilean Chicken Salad
Palta Reina is a chicken salad served with a half an avocado. This dish is traditionally served as an appetizer and is made with chicken breasts, garlic, mustard, mayonnaise, onions, cayenne pepper and fresh herbs. Across the Rapel region there are many variations of Palta Reina and many chefs add additional ingredients such as olives, tabasco sauce or lemon juice. This dish is best served cold and paired with a crisp and fresh local Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.
Tomatican – Traditional Meat and tomato Stew
Tominican is also known as tomatican chileno and is a traditional stew made with meat, sweet corn, onions, and tomatoes. This dish was typically made in the rural areas of the Rapel Valley, using the freshest ingredients from the local land. When visiting Chile, this dish is usually eaten in the summer months when corn and tomatoes are in season. For vegetarians, the meat can be left out. In local restaurants and cafes, tomatican is normally served with bread, quinoa, cornbread, rice, tortillas, or polenta. Before serving, the dish is garnished with grated cheese and avocado. Enjoy a steaming bowl of tomatican to experience true Chilean comfort food.
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Soil: Volcanic, clay, loamy-clay and sandy
Climate: Warm and dry with rainy winter months and windy summers