Casablanca Valley, Chile
The Casablanca Valley is a famed wine region located between the cities of Valparaiso/Viña del Mar and Santiago, and can be reached in less than one hour from either. It is nested close to the Coastal Mountain Range, in an area of very particular climate characteristics: cooler in the lower grounds and gradually warmer as it moves to higher zones.
Although the city of Casablanca was founded back in 1753, it was absolutely unknown for its wines until only two decades ago. The first vines were brought here in 1982, thanks to the efforts of a nationally renowned winemaker interested in expanding the wine frontiers of his country and establish a new area to raise white grapes. Casablanca was finally chosen due to some of its characteristics that are similar to those found at Napa Valley, in California: intermediate temperatures, well defined dry and wet seasons and proximity to the sea and to mountain ranges.
His work probably resulted in a success well above expected and today the Casablanca Valley is positioned as one of the best places in the world to raise some white grape varieties, delighting the market with high quality Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. More than 15 renowned wineries are established in the area and have their doors open for visitors. Although it is always possible to participate in tasting sessions and purchase wines directly at the winery stores, some of them offer a more diversified program. Guided tours across the vines or the cellars, museums, restaurants, horse riding trails, bicycle circuits and picnics are a few of the options available to enjoy a nice couple of hours or even a half a day at each of these places. When planning a visit, however, remember to book any activities beforehand.
Some the greatest wineries at the Casablanca Valley include:
Emiliana: a winery strongly focused in the principles of sustainable, organic and biodynamic agriculture, it believes that its way of caring for the land can be translated into better quality wines. Visiting this winery means learning a bit about how to merge respect for the environment and the production of internationally renowned products.
Casas del Bosque: founded in 1993, it features a cultivated area of 235 hectares (580 acres) dedicated exclusively to the production of cold climate varieties, like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Syrah. It is one of the local wineries with the best touristic infrastructure, including its acclaimed restaurant: Tanino.
Bodegas RE: this is a small familiar winery, established in 2008 by the same pioneer who first discovered the wine vocation of the Casablanca Valley in the 1980’s. This winery develops distinct wines, not of one or another type of grape, but mixing them in order to obtain truly unique products.
Loma Larga: established in 1999, this is the leader in cold climate red wines in Chile. Tours occur on a private basis, always customized to the interests of each visitor.