All the prominent wine regions in Chile are located just within hours drive of Santiago city center, making it one of the best destinations in South America for a wine-break. Of all the wine spots, Maipo Valley wine region is the shortest drive away and offers a host of delectable Chilean wine, meaning it is a perfect getaway for wine-lovers who are short on time. For those on a longer trip, you could even combine your Maipo Valley wine tour with some hiking or rafting, but we suggest you get your activities done before you start drinking!
Maipo Valley, the most traditional (and claimed by some to be the oldest) wine region in Chile, is known for its French-inspired wineries and famed for its cabernet sauvignon and carmenere. No trip to Maipo is complete without sampling a glass or two of this fine local produce!
The main activity in Maipo Valley is touring its wine estates. Many of the wineries offer tours that will take you through the estate and show you how their particular wine is produced. You will be able to learn about the entire process from vine to bottle. But with so many options of wineries, the decision to choose can be overwhelming. Below is a list of the 5 recommended wineries (in no particular order) that you must visit.
If you want to visit a big winery with a very rich history, Concha y Toro is the perfect destination. Named after the founder, Don Melchor Concha y Toro, who’s last name literally translates to ‘shell and bull’, this legendary vineyard is one of the top wine producers in all of South America. Most known for its wine brand Casillero del Diablo (meaning ‘devil’s cellar’) Concha y Toro is a major attraction for wine connoisseurs around the world. A wine tour reservation at Concha needs to be made at least 24 hours prior, but for the vineyard tours, you can either buy a ticket on the spot when you get there or you can wander around on your own. The restaurant onsite comes highly recommended.
- Opening hours: Every day, 10:00 – 17:10. Closed on particular holidays. Wine tours need to be reserved at least 24 hours in advance.
- Tour duration: Two types of tours available: traditional and Marques de Casa Concha. Both last approximately 1 hour.
- Wine to taste: Casillero del Diablo carmenere
Wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike will fall in love with this beautiful winery. With the Andes in the background, the vineyard is steeped in tradition and has an authentic Chilean vibe to it. Combine a leisurely walk through the vineyards with a tasting of some of their world-class produce, or enjoy delicious food paired with a glass or two of their full-bodied wines at their in-house Done Paula restaurant. If you have a group of eight you can take a tour on the estate’s pedal bar.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 – 16:00
- Tour duration: There are 9 types of tours on offer, lasting from 1 to 3 hours. A few of them require prior booking.
- Wine to taste: Casa Real cabernet sauvignon
Established in 1885, Undurraga is one of Chile’s oldest wineries. Away from the bustling Santiago, a visit to Undurraga winery allows you to enjoy some fine vino amidst tranquil vineyards surrounded by the Andean foothills. A trip to the winery also opens doors to observe a detailed process of producing one of the best wines in the continent. The wine estate offers two main tours. The standard tour is called sibaris and includes three different wines and a complimentary wine glass. Alternatively, you can take the premium tour, during which you will sample four premium wines accompanied by cheese and dried fruit.
- Opening hours: Every day, 10:15 – 15:30
- Tour duration: Two types of guided tours available, both lasting approximately 1.5 hours
- Wine to taste: T.H. cabernet sauvignon
Located furthest east in the Andes than any other Chilean winery, El Principal in High Maipo isn’t the most known on the list here. But it’s under-the-radar status allows it produce excellent wine in small quantities that have received raving reviews from its clientele. You will need a reservation if you want to take a tour here, but it is worth making one. During your tour, you will get to explore the hilltop estate, which offers fabulous views of the Maipo Valley, and sample grapes directly from the vines.
- Opening hours: Every day 10:00 – 18:00. Reservations are mandatory.
- Tour duration: There are 4 tours you can pick from. Tours dedicated to wine tasting only last 1.5 hours.
- Wine to taste: Calicanto, Memorias and El Principal (blends-based Cabernet Sauvignon).
The Santa Carolina winery has been around for about 140 years and is just as relevant now as it was when it won international recognition at the Paris Exposition in 1889. Its pièce de resistance is its remarkable cellar, which is considered a national monument. What’s more, after a catastrophic earthquake damaged the property in 2010, a secret cellar was revealed. This cellar contained long-forgotten wines that date back over 50 years.
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 18:30, Sunday, 12:00
- Tour duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour
- Wine to taste: Herencia Carmenère
A number of Maipo wine tours offer round-trip transport from Santiago to the Maipo Valley. However, if you want to get to the region without booking a tour, then the easiest thing to do is hire a car and drive from Santiago, from where most of the wineries are around an hour away. Be sure to hire a 4x4 as you might need to tackle some bumpy dirt roads.
Keep in mind that Pirque is the main town in Maipo Valley, so if you would rather take public transport, this is where you start the journey. Hop on the Santiago metro to Plaza de Puente Alto. From there take a blue minibus with ‘Pirque’ written on its window. Either get off at Plaza Pirque or Vina Concha y Toro. From there you will either need to walk or take a taxi to the wine estates.
Most people who visit Maipo Valley will base themselves in Santiago and visit the wineries during day trips. However, if you want to stay in Maipo Valley, there are several accommodation options available. Here are some of our recommendations:
Hotel Casa Real
This beautiful 18th century mansion is located on the Santa Rita vineyard. Surrounded by stunning gardens and boasting gorgeous, intimate rooms, this hotel is a beacon of beauty and tranquility. When hunger strikes, guests can make their way to the hotel’s famous Dona Paula restaurant. The Dona Paula is commonly considered the best eatery outside of Santiago!
Peumayen Country House
This rustic, rural accommodation is a must for people who want to escape the chaos of the city. With plenty of open space, a pool and peacocks roaming freely through the garden, this lodging is truly sublime. Here, guests can spend their days exploring the serene surroundings and sampling the delicious meals prepared by Angela, the landlady.
Rincón de Naltahua
This cosy little countryside villa exudes warmth and happiness and is the ideal base for exploring the Maipo Valley. Although it is just an hour from the capital, the villa feels worlds away. There are plenty of activities available here, including walking through the villa’s orchard and taking a gastronomy or wine tour.
The best time to visit Maipo Valley is during the harvest season — end of March until May. It is autumn so the days are cooler, the leaves are changing colors and it is just a beautiful time to be here. Many wineries offer a special harvest tour during this time.
While almost all the wineries are open for wine tasting tours throughout the year, be advised that many of them might only run one tour a day during certain seasons.
The most popular type of tour in Maipo Valley is a standard tour of a winery. You will be taken through the estate, educated on the winemaking process and given various wines to sample. However, if you are looking for a more unique wine tour then you might want to consider one of the following:
- Bike and wine tour: Cycle through miles of spectacular wine country and forest before coming back for some well-deserved wine.
- Horseback wine tour: Travel by horse through the idyllic scenery of the Maipo Valley, taking in the wonderful views and fresh air as you go. End the tour by tasting some of the region’s finest wines.
- Culture and wine tour: Journey back in time as you explore Chile’s cultural heritage, from its cuisine to its architecture. Of course, the tour has plenty of wine-sampling opportunities.
Here are a few tips to help your trip to the Maipo Valley go as smooth as possible.
- Most wineries will require you to make a reservation in advance — we highly recommend it!
- Leave space in your luggage for a bottle (or two!) of your favourite Chilean wine.
- Many wineries offer tours in English and Spanish, but we advise you to learn some basic Spanish. It comes in handy when it comes to booking taxis and arranging accommodation.
If you love to indulge in good wine or are a wine connoisseur, then a Maipo Valley wine tour makes the perfect side trip to your Chilean vacation. With nothing to do but admire the pristine scenery and sip delicious vino, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind.