Wine grapes first arrived in Chile during the 1500’s with the Spanish missionaries. By the mid-1800’s wine production was flourishing and French vitis vinifera varietals were introduced.
When the European wine trade was devastated by Phylloxera, Chile became the first country in the New World to export wines to Europe. For unexplained reasons, Chile remains Phylloxera-free to this day.
Unfortunately state protectionism in Chile halted the growth of the wine industry and it wasn’t until the late 1970’s it opened its doors again to international trade.
In the early 1980’s Miguel Torres chose Chile to establish his New World winery, and others from France, Germany, Italy and California soon followed, bringing investment and modern winemaking techniques to the country. Winemakers were encouraged to work with winegrowers to improve the quality of the fruit and increase varietal selection. During this period Chile’s signature grape “Carménère” appeared, the world was aware that Chile’s “Merlot” was unique but it wasn’t until 1994 that a name was attached to it.
Today Chile’s winemakers continue their quest for knowledge of the land, the climate and the relationship between terroir and the vines they plant. Despite nearly 500 years of winemaking heritage Chile’s wine industry is fresh young and boldly evolving to meet the needs of today’s demanding world markets. Chilean wines are now available in more than 90 countries on 5 continents.