The history of Chilean wine begins with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the mid-16th century. The missionaries introduced vines to produce the wine required for the Catholic mass ritual. It is believed that the first vines were planted by Francisco de Aguirre in Copiapó, in northern Chile. Diego García de Cáceres was the first to plant vineyards in Santiago in 1554.
In 1830, French citizen Claude Gay convinced the Chilean government of the need to create an experimental agricultural station, called Quinta Normal. Most of the grape varieties grown in France and Italy were imported for wine production.
In 1851 Don Silvestre Ochagavía brought vines from France to plant on his Talagante estate. Ochagavía introduced vines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon, Semillon and Riesling. These were the basis for the beginning of the modern wine industry in Chile. By the mid 1880s, Chilean wines were successfully exported to European markets. The quality of these wines was recognized at multiple international fairs and competitions, culminating in 1889, when they won the "Grand Prix" in Paris. In 1938, the area planted with vineyards in Chile exceeded 100,000 hectares, when wine exports reached their maximum levels equivalent to the pre-war period.
Chile has been highlighted as a global producer of excellent wines and spirits. Aromas, colors, flavors and centuries of experience are some of the characteristics that make Chilean wine one of the most sought after in the world. Chile's valleys have the ideal combination of soil, sunshine, temperature and humidity to grow grapes and produce world-class wine. They are also among the most organic. Because of the dry summers, Chilean vineyards and their natural geographic barriers are protected and free of pests and diseases that can attack the vines. Chile is today the fifth largest wine exporter in the world. Traditionally Chile has been known and recognized for the quality of its reds, however, thanks to the work and perseverance of Pablo Morandé, among others, today we can say that our whites also enjoy a well-deserved prestige worldwide. Pablo Morandé Lavín is an Agricultural Engineer from the University of Chile and comes from a family with a 5-generation winemaking tradition. Pablo has been a key character in the recent history of Chilean wine, he is the creator of the most successful wine, Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, discoverer of the two best valleys for white wines, Casablanca and Leyda. He traveled through Chile until he came across the Casablanca valley and there he found a field with an auspicious name: "La Vinilla". There had been a small vineyard, with torontel, muscatel and country grapes to make mass wine. He began to study the sprouting dates of the grasses and realized that they appeared 20 to 30 days late in relation to Santiago. In other words, the grapes would ripen more slowly and preserve their aromas, which is what is sought after in white wines.
Foreign investment has played a fundamental role in the Chilean wine industry, including the following wineries: Miguel Torres, Chateau Lafitte, Rothschild, Lapostolle, VIK, Pernod Ricard, Kendall-Jackson, Francisco State, Bruno Prat, among others, which have made investments and technological contributions of great importance in the industry. All of them attracted by the ideal conditions of Chile, which allow to obtain grapes of the highest quality, which in turn allow to produce premium and ultra premium wines, highly valued in international markets.
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