Cold weather wine in Chile: Patagonia’s vineyards gaining recognition

Chile’s booming wine industry is generally focused on the country’s central regions, where a comfortable Mediterranean climate, and a unique position between the Pacific and the Andes, easily nurture the area’s vineyards.

Chile’s extreme regions and climate zones are gaining a reputation for producing interesting wines. previously reported on winemaking in the arid Atacama Desert, where innovative winemakers have been experimenting with more difficult growing conditions. Similarly, Patagonia’s cool and wet climate in Chile’s southern reaches are also giving way to quality wine.

Wines from the Chilean Patagonia instantly bring the taste of glaciers to mind, having been nourished from cultivation to harvest with pure air, clean water and pristine, rich earth. Like the thrill of outdoor winter sports, a good wine from Patagonia is an unforgettable experience, and an emissary from the region, imparting a sense of communion between landscape, wildlife and man.

The area’s geography, with numerous rivers, lakes and mountains, creates a wide variety of particular climate patterns and soil features, which are giving Patagonia diverse and exciting terroirs.

An extreme wine region

Because of Patagonia’s relatively cool year-round climate and rocky soils, certain grapes – like Pinot Noir, for example – are able to thrive more easily, developing thick skins and enhanced tannins (particular biomolecules found in grapes and wine). The region’s persistent winds also prevent some botanical diseases that may attack vines in other parts of Chile.

Resilient grapes result in special wines, recognized for higher acidity, lower alcohol content, and lighter textures. These characteristics are evident in many wines from southern Chile and southern Argentina, where the massive Patagonian frontier spans the border between the two countries.

Winemaking with care

As Chile’s Patagonia wine region is still relatively undiscovered by the global wine community, most wineries throughout the area are family affairs and boutique ventures. The personal touch of independent winemaking and tender care add warmth to the cold-weather wines of the south.

Chile Chico vineyard, for example, is known as an “oasis in Aysén.” One of the world’s southernmost wineries, it is now producing wine made from grapes grown near General Carrera Lake in the Aysén region, with positive reception from the wine community.

Like in Atacama, as the new southern wine making region evolves, and as independent and unconventional wines gain popularity, wine lovers throughout the world can eagerly anticipate the opportunity to taste Patagonia in a glass, while visitors to Patagonia can seek and enjoy the area’s locally-made viticultural treasures.

By Gretchen Stahlman, written for Chile.Travel

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