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Chile wineries expand south

Chile’s wine industry is expanding deeper into its southernmost regions, where enologists say there is great potential for cold climate varietals.

Earlier this year, a vineyard started up at Chiloe Island, located more than 1100km south of Santiago. The winery – Fundo Lechagua – lays claim to being the southernmost in South America.

In a cool climate similar to southern New Zealand, the Lechagua operation aims to produce 40,000 bottles annually of Chenin, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

Vina Momberg, located near the Lake District town of Osorno, aims to go into major production of wines such as Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc for the first time.

Wineries at a more advanced stage have already been getting a good reputation for southern Chile wines in the nearby Malleco and Bio Bio Valleys.

Vina Aquitania has been making top quality Chardonnays at its Traiguen estate in the Malleco Valley since 1995.

Late last year, the Corpora group, which includes Gracia, Porta, Veranda and Agustinos, bought a winery in Bio Bio as part of plans to significantly expand in that region, where they have had vines since 1993.

Gonzalo Gil, viticulturist at Chile’s Catholic University, said the lower temperatures in the Chilean south make for grapes that grow more slowly and mature later. ‘There are good possibilities in the south,’ said Gil. ‘It is something different, and the greater acidity could be an attribute.’

Written by Jimmy Langman in Santiago

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