To the north of Santiago is the Aconcagua Valley, a small winegrowing area of just 1,098 hectares best-known for its production of red wines. In fact, Aconcagua has earned international prestige as one of Chile’s highest regarded wines. In 2004, Vina Errázuriz’s “Seña”, an iconic Bordeaux-style blend and one of the premier reds of Chile, placed ahead of both Château Lafite and Château Margaux in the Berlin Tasting, a milestone for the Chilean wine industry likened to the famous 1976 Judgment of Paris.
Aconcagua experiences a Mediterranean climate with 8.5 inches of annual rainfall and boast variety of soils dominated by clay and sand in the east and granite and clay in the west. The area is also home to the America’s highest point, Mt. Aconcagua. At 22,828 feet, the snowcapped mountain provides adequate water to the vines below.
The valley also runs along the river that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes and experiences significant diurnal differences (warm days followed by cool nights). Its warmest area is in the center of the valley, though leaning more toward the Eastern side, but at either end natural factors help to regulate temperature. In the east, the temperature is influenced by higher altitudes combined with sweeping winds while to the west the area is kept cool by the cool breezes generated by the coastal Humboldt Current. It is here, in the west, that some winemakers have begun to explore the growth of cool climate whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, but for now Aconcagua remains best-known for its ripe, fruit-forward reds made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Carmenere.
Within the area of Aconcagua, there is one particular growing area, Panquehue, which is home to the famous Vina Errázuriz, which is over a century old, and offers a more moderate climate for grape growing adding to the grape’s ability to retain its natural acidity with a slightly longer growing season.
Aconcagua, though small, is well-recognized as one of Chile’s premier regions for wine-growing with a prominent past helping to set the wines of Chile on the map. As more producers explore the area and the vine growing area expands, Aconcagua is expected to shine for many years to come.