Santa Cruz, O'Higgins Region, Chile
Colchagua Valley: Chile's NapaLocated 100 miles south of Santiago, the Colchagua Valley has in the past decade become one of Chile's wine hotbeds for the production of robust red wines. Stretching from the Andean foothills in the east through the coastal mountains to west, always following the Tinguirrica River, the valley is renowned for its "big" reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Chile's flagship wine, Carmenere.
The majority of the vineyards lie in the center of the valley around the small country town of Santa Cruz with its charming colonial plaza and several hotels. New vineyard plantations are also extending into the hillsides in prestigious sub appellations like Apalta nearby and to the west towards the sea. Besides red wine, Colchagua is also steeped heavily in Chile's country traditions and cowboy culture as an agricultural valley, making it an ideal weekend getaway.
For wine enthusiasts, every March during harvest the valley puts on its annual harvest festival during a whole weekend with tastings from valley wineries, regional food, music, dance, and local color.
about 3 years ago
When Jancis Robinson, author of The Oxford Companion to Wine, visited Chile at the beginning of the millennium, she observed that what Chilean winemakers do best is cabernet sauvignon, adding that “interesting things were also being done with pinot noir and shiraz.” The Colchagua Valley produces all three, which are harvested in April. The town of Santa Cruz, a three-hour drive south of Santiago, is the center of the region and blessed with a perfect climate for red wine production. Thousands of Chileans and foreign visitors attend harvest celebrations—the festivities often include wine pairings with gourmet foods as well as traditional and specialty items like chocolates, avocado oil, honey, and dried fruits. Young and old play traditional games such as rayuela (hopscotch), and the harvest celebrations provide an ever-rarer chance to hear authentic Chilean folk music.