It’s been called “The Next Napa.” And for excellent reason.
As the modern Chilean wine industry has matured, and come to rely ever more on scientific methods for drawing the best from its exceptional soils and microclimates, it has become apparent that the Colchagua Valley offers exceptional advantages for growers and producers alike.
It’s a situation not unlike that of the Napa Valley 50 years ago. And it’s what has attracted Viña La Playa and other fine wineries to this pristine spot.
Located about 80 miles southwest of Santiago, the Colchagua Valley is about 75 miles long and averages 22 miles in width. It enjoys a balmy, Mediterranean climate matched in only a few other places on earth. With no smog, the air is exceptionally clear, and the region is noted for its abundant and extraordinarily luminous sunshine. The average annual rainfall, which occurs mostly in the winter months of May to August, is about 24 inches. Humidity is low, and frost is unknown.
As Pacific maritime breezes sweep around the coastal mountain range into the Colchagua Valley (a horseshoe-shaped sub-region of the Rapel Valley), they cross Rapel Lake and follow the river inland. La Playa’s vineyards are “first in line” for the benign influence of these afternoon breezes, which temper the effects of the hot summer sun and lead to crisp, cool nights. Temperatures in the long summer season (November to April) fluctuate by as much as 40°F from day to night.
Also vital for great grapes, of course, are good soil and water. The deep sedimentary soil of the Colchagua Valley contains a mixture of fine-textured loam clay and loam silt, bordered by medium-textured volcanic soil in the foothills. Towering above the Valley to the east are the mighty Andes, including the 14,038-foot Tinguiririca Volcano. Melting snow feeds the Tinguiririca River, which rises at the foot of the volcano and carries pure water to the valley below.
All these factors create a terroir of near-perfect conditions for the vineyards, including an exceptionally long growing season of warm, dry weather. Grapes that mature slowly can develop their varietal character to the fullest, yielding wines bursting with fruit — a characteristic that has earned the Colchagua Valley an honored place on the world’s wine map. A further blessing is that Chile is entirely free of phylloxera.
In fact, Colchagua wines (especially red varietals) are now widely recognized for their excellent quality. In recent international wine judgings — such as the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, Challenge du Vin, Civart, International Wine Challenge, and the International Wine and Spirits competition — the Colchagua Valley appellation has garnered more than half of all the medals awarded to Chilean wines. And in Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 list, Colchagua wines were #3 in the world in 2003, and #2 in 2004.
Futher, Colchagua Valley was named 2005 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast, which called it “one of the country’s most successful regions,” and noted that “the natural advantages of the Colchagua Valley are yielding some of the most compelling wines in the world.”
Currently the Colchagua Valley is planted to about 50,000 acres of vineyards. The predominantBack to top