The Maipo Valley is the birthplace of Chile’s wine production, and the closest wine region to the capital city of Santiago. It is the best known wine region of Chile, as it produces some of the finest wines. The Maipo Valley features the most important dates in viticultural - as in 1555, the first wine production of Chile was officially certificated; the introduction of French grape varieties from 1851 to 1994; and eventually the rediscovery of the long mistaken Carmenére grape variety in 1998.
From Santiago - vineyards stretch east to the Andes Mountains and west to the coast to form three distinct sectors of the Maipo Valley best known for its well-balanced red wines. Alto Maipo reaches into the foothills and produces some of Chile’s leading Cabernets.
Central Maipo is one of the country’s oldest and most diverse productive regions, and Coastal Maipo - a relative newcomer, benefits from the cool maritime influence that glides over and between the coastal mountains.
The climate in the Maipo Valley is stable with hot dry summers and short mild winters with 450mm of rain and extreme diurnal temperature differences. 10,000 hectares are planted with 8,000 ha of red varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenére, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec; with the remaining 2,000ha are planted in traditional white varieties, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Most of the country´s oldest wineries are based in the Maipo Valley, expanding more and more to other wine regions. Being drier and warmer than 'newer' wine regions, Maipo is more suited to red grape varieties and is firmly established as a producer of world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay are also widely grown in the region, and plantings of Carmenére, Chile's 'icon' grape, are increasing each year.
Drip irrigation gives viticulturalists a weapon against the lengthy dry periods, and the introduction of new technologies like temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and new oak barrels allow controlled fermentation and quality wine production.