Jan 6th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Touring Chile’s Vineyards

My wife and I have been to Chile. Not exactly on a tour, but with a group of middle school students on an exchange program south of Santiago.  We fell in love with Chile and hope to go back again some day. It is high on our list for senior travel adventures. Chile is geographically and climatically dominated by the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Chile’s vineyards are found along an 800-mile stretch of land from Atacama Region to the Bio-Bio Region in the south. There are 188 wineries in Chile, of which 96 are devoted to tourism, 14 have restaurants and nine provide accommodations.

The climate is varied with the northern regions being very hot and dry compared to the cooler, wetter regions in the south.  Despite being politically linked to Spain, Chile’s wine history has been most profoundly influenced by French, particularly Bordeaux, winemaking. Prior to the phylloxera epidemic, wealthy Chilean landowners were influenced by their visits to France and began importing French vines to plant.

There are many tours available for seniors to the best vineyards and wineries in Chile. On each tour seniors will have an opportunity to sample a wide variety of chilean wines. Some seniors prefer to visit both Chile and Argentina for their exciting cuisines as well as the very finest vineyards.

If you prefer not to do the long runs up and down the coast you can tour Chile’s wine districts near Santiago. Forty vineyards are found just outside the capital. Santiago Adventures is a premier wine tour company offering a comprehensive selection of wine tours and wine travel options.

Through their expert guides and local in-depth knowledge seniors can experience Chile’s finest wineries, authentic cuisine and enchanting South American hospitality.  Frommers describes 4 Vineyard Vacations to Chile and Argentina and each is well described with a separate website, the itineraries, the cost and details that will help in making a good choice according to your interests.

Visiting wineries in Chile has become a growing trend, mainly because there are so many great ones so close to our country’s capital,” says Juan Pablo Chomar, director of Turismo Chile’s North America division. “There are so many great wineries near Santiago and also many beaches and ski resorts so close. So, you can be skiing one moment and visiting a winery the next, and finishing your day at the beach.”

Seniors,  What’s Your Choice in Wine?

Yes, Chile is one long and skinny country—a 2,600-mile strip of land between the mountains and the ocean—but fortunately most of its wine regions are in the central part of the country near the capital. This is one of the few locations in the world where you can sleep in the same major city hotel each night but reach a different wine valley each day by riding an hour or two in a different direction. Here you can hop from winery to winery sampling some of the best Chardonnay you’ve ever tasted, Sauvignon Blanc that is consistently excellent, and Cabernets that win “best of” awards on the international stage. But that’s just the start: different valleys produce excellent Pinot Noir, Merlot, cool late harvest varietals, and even Gewürztraminer. One interesting advantage to Chile’s geography is that the country is relatively free of the pests and fungi that need to be battled with pesticides in most other wine growing regions.

The region has a long viticultural history for a New World wine region dating to the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors brought Vitis vinifera vines with them as they colonized the region. Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer.  Most of Chile’s premium wine regions are dependent on irrigation to sustain vineyards, getting the necessary water from melting snow caps in the Andes.

What’s the best Chilean wine?  Well, as you know wine tasting is a very subjective thing, and there are way too many wines that can fit the criteria depending on who you ask. I know from personal experience, my last Elderhostel group in France tasted 61 different wines in two weeks. The following compilation of Chilean wines, is a list which consists of some of the more “numerously” prized Chilean wines in the last couple of years or iconic Chilean wines if you will. So bring along your favorite wine glass and take good notes. You may even want to come back again to take in those vineyards that you were unable to visit on this trip. You too, will enjoy Chile. jeb

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