Chilean Wine: A Profile of Chilean Wine History, Varietals, Producers & More

Geography, Soils and Climate

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Chile is a long, narrow country on South America's west coast.  The nation is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by the Andes Mountains, on the north by the Atacama Desert and on the south by chilly Patagonia.  Protected on all sides by these geographical barriers, Chile's Mediterranean climate varies just enough to allow many different wine grape varieties to flourish there.

Chilean summers are warm and very dry, although nights are quite cool.   Winters are cool and most of the annual rainfall occurs during this season.  Summers in and near Santiago, Chile's capital, are quite warm, with average temperatures near 67 degrees Fahrenheit and maximum temperatures reaching 90 degrees.  Concepción, to the south, is cooler, with summer average temperatures near 64 degrees Fahrenheit.  Winters in Concepción have average temperatures near 49 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to 46 degrees in Santiago.

On the coastal plain and in the coastal mountains, sea breezes and fog affect the climate.  Cool air also blows toward the west from the soaring Andes Mountains, affecting temperatures in Chile's central plain.  The Humboldt Current, which flows northward along the Chilean coast, also helps to bring down temperatures.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

Rainfall in Santiago averages 13 inches per year, but areas to the north and south see differing amounts.  Near the northern desert areas, rainfall is scanty.  In Concepción, June and July are especially rainy, with monthly totals typically reaching 10 inches.

Soils in Chile vary widely from place to place.  In some areas, such as the Maule wine region, soils are predominantly volcanic.  In others, loam, clay or limestone and sand predominate.

Chilean Wine Regions

Chile's Denomination of Origin (D.O.) system divides the country's winegrowing areas into four large regions.  Each of these regions is divided into sub-regions, and some sub-regions are further divided into zones.  When you look at a Chilean wine label, you are most likely to see the name of a sub-region, although you may see some wines bottled under the regional name.  Chile's wine regions are:


This region is the northernmost in Chile.  Elqui is known for its fruits as well as its wines.  Limarí receives very little rain, less than four inches per year.  Choapa does not yet have any wineries, only vineyards.


  • Elqui
  • Limarí
  • Choapa