North American magazine Sherman’s Travel named the Colchagua Valley as the second best overlooked wine destinations on earth. Following Alsace in France, Colchagua is singled out for producing “lush, plus-red wines that are broad-shouldered but not too tannic to drink when young.” Just 93 miles (150 km) south of Santiago, the Colchagua Valley, like many of Chile’s most productive wine regions, specializes in full-bodied red varietals like Cabernet, Carmenere and Syrah.
“The whole country, in particular this part of the larger Rapel Valley, has made huge strides in developing the super-premium category over the last decade.” In that time, Chile’s international reputation has experienced a sea change. Known before for producing cheap, easy-drinking table wines, Chile has come out from the shadow of Argentina to be recognized as one of the new world’s best wine regions, particularly within the climactically and geographically diverse Central Valleys.
The remaining positions on the list were filled in with old and new world regions, including Jerez de la Frontera and the Rias Baixas in Spain, the Piedmont in Italy and the Languedoc in France. The new world regions noted in addition to the Colchagua Valley were the Margaret River, Australia, Mendocino, California, Niagara, Ontario and the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
A visit to the Colchagua Valley makes an ideal weekend trip for travelers in Santiago, with easy access by Chile’s extensive, efficient and comfortable inter-regional buses. The central city of the Colchagua Valley, Santa Cruz, can be reached in roughly three hours from Santiago, and offers a wide variety of accommodations. The Colchagua Valley Wine Route operating within the region includes 17 vineyards and can arrange individual tours of its vineyards with various focuses for wine enthusiasts and beginnings alike.