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Wine Country: Chile

With five centuries of wine-making experience behind them, it's no wonder that Chilean winemakers are harvesting the benefits of hard work, a pleasant climate, good soils and perseverance in the wide - and growing - scope of their wines.

Long and thin, Chile has a lot of land north to south with a terrific diversity of climate and geography. With the Atacama dessert to the north and the desolate ice-fields of Patagonia to the south, the scope for winemaking is confined to a small central belt of the country with a moderate climate. Wine has been made in Chile for centuries. The art of winemaking started in Chile with The Catholic missionaries, since they needed wine to celebrate the sacrament during mass. The first professional vineyards were recorded in Copiapo 1554.

But it was centuries later in the 1990's that Chile stepped up and received international recognition for its quality wines. This was fuelled partly by the pouring of international technology, expertise and investment into Chile. Its quality wines burst onto the international market offering fruity oaky Chardonnays, juicy ripe Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot at lower prizes compared to the other countries.

Chilean wines continue to grow in popularity today. The main wine regions of Chile include Maipo, known for reds like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere; Casablanca Valley, a newer region producing delicious Sauvignon Blancs, as well as other whites & reds; Colchaugua, an even newer district creating amazing red wines from Syrah to Cabernet Sauvignon. Lastly, Rapel Valley, settled right under Maipo and producing the same red varietals. Chilean wines are growing in exports and more consumers are enjoying the delicious values coming from the country.