Throughout the wine world, Europe is commonly referred to as \u201cOld World,\u201d while North America and the Southern Hemisphere are generally called \u201cNew World.\u201d With respect to Chile, however, New World is really a bit of a misnomer.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s true that Chilean wine has experienced its greatest period of evolution and growth over the past quarter century. But the country\u2019s commercial wine industry can trace its roots as far back as the 1800s, when a number of major producers were founded.\r\n\r\nJump ahead more than 100 years, and Chile\u2019s largest and most prominent wineries continue to set the pace for an industry that\u2019s expanded greatly in number of producers, areas of production and, most importantly, quality wines offered.\r\n\r\nLearn about the early days and key moments at six of the country\u2019s heritage wineries, and discover which wines will give you a taste of history in the making.\r\n\r\n\r\nVi\u00f1a Santa Rita\r\nAlto Jahuel, Maipo Valley\r\nYear Founded: 1880\r\nCurrent Ownership: Mar\u00eda Luisa Vial de Claro via the Claro Vial Foundation\r\nVi\u00f1a Santa Rita, a nominee for Wine Enthusiast\u2019s 2019 New World Winery of the Year, is arguably Chile\u2019s quintessential wine estate. Founded by businessman and senator Domingo Fern\u00e1ndez Concha, the property features a colonial-era mansion that operates as a hotel (Hotel Casa Real), nearly 100 acres of immaculate, European-influenced grounds and a meticulously designed chapel. It also features a restaurant located in refurbished cellars that once served as a hideout for Chilean soldiers during their fight for independence from Spain.\r\n\r\nFern\u00e1ndez Concha\u2019s early use of cal y canto (egg whites mixed with limestone mortar and sand) to join bricks in the original winery, as well as his import of both French vines and winemakers, got Santa Rita off to an auspicious start. When he died in 1910, his son-in-law, Vicente Garc\u00eda Huidobro, took over and became the king of wine distribution in Chile as well as expanded international export markets. Today, the label can be found in more than 70 countries.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nGarc\u00eda Huidobro\u2019s children and grandchildren ran the winery next, from 1949 through 1979. Under these successive generations, the estate\u2019s historical buildings were designated as National Heritage Monuments in 1972.\r\n\r\nBusinessman Ricardo Claro acquired a major stake in Santa Rita the following year, and would eventually consolidate ownership under his own name. As part of the Claro Wine Group, now also called Santa Rita Estates, the winery joined brands like Vi\u00f1a Carmen and Sur Andino in Chile, along with Do\u00f1a Paula in Argentina. Claro passed away in 2008, but his widow, Mar\u00eda Luisa Vial, remains in charge via a trust.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWorldwide, sales of all Santa Rita Estates brands topped 12 million cases last year. Its top-selling wine is Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon, while its prestige wine, Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon, is perennially one of Chile\u2019s best wines.\r\n\r\nSanta Rita 2014 Casa Real Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley); $80, 93 points. Concentrated aromas of plum and berry fruits come with a note of charred oak. On the palate, this is grippy, but pulsing with bold fruit. Blackberry, cassis, toast and chocolate flavors finish with intensity. Drink through 2040. DFV Wines. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\n\r\n\r\nVi\u00f1a Err\u00e1zuriz\r\nPanquehue, Aconcagua Valley\r\nYear Founded: 1870\r\nCurrent Ownership: Eduardo Chadwick\r\nThe latter half of the 1800s was the time of \u201cLos Dones\u201d in Chile. These were wealthy land owners whose families originally hailed mostly from Spain. \u201cSantiago was filled with them,\u201d says Eduardo Chadwick, the fifth-generation owner of Err\u00e1zuriz, based about 70 miles north of Chile\u2019s capital city.\r\n\r\nOne of those 19th-century dons was Maximiano Err\u00e1zuriz Valdivieso, Chadwick\u2019s great-great-grandfather. An adventurous entrepreneur and politician, Don Max led a horseback expedition up to the Aconcagua Valley town of Panquehue, the \u201cplace of parks,\u201d in search of land to start a winery. As with many of Chile\u2019s heritage wineries, Err\u00e1zuriz\u2019s original vineyards were started with vine cuttings from Bordeaux.\r\n\r\nBut the 20th century saw what Chadwick called \u201ca drought for wine\u201d in Chile. Domestic consumption plunged and wineries suffered until after Augusto Pinochet\u2019s military dictatorship took hold. While the regime is reputed for abusing human rights, the economic policies implemented are believed to have opened up and aided the country\u2019s economy. It was during Pinochet\u2019s rule, which was from 1973 through 1990, that wine production returned as a viable industry with long-term potential.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u201cFrom 1968 to 1983, Err\u00e1zuriz was almost closed,\u201d says Chadwick. \u201cIn 1983, I returned from a stay in France and implemented a revitalization program based on top wines from top terroirs.\u201d\r\n\r\nPart of this sea change included a period in the mid-1990s in which the Mondavi family from Napa Valley owned shares in the winery. That led to the creation of Se\u00f1a, a joint-venture red blend that\u2019s now one of Err\u00e1zuriz\u2019s signature wines. In 2004, Chadwick bought out the Mondavis.\r\n\r\nProduction now stands at about 450,000 cases annually, with exports going to 78 countries. Head Winemaker Francisco Baettig is regarded as one of Chile\u2019s best. Under his watch, wines like La Cumbre Syrah and Las Pizarras Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have been introduced. Meanwhile, Vi\u00f1edo Chadwick, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Puente Alto in the Maipo Valley, ranks as Chile\u2019s most expensive wine at around $400.\r\n\r\nErr\u00e1zuriz 2017 Las Pizarras Pinot Noir (Aconcagua Costa); $135, 91 points. Aromas of plum, spicy currant and iodine carry the nose. The racy palate is pumped full of red-berry acidity, while this coastal Pinot tastes of salty currant and raspberry along with barrel spice and dried earth. A compacted palate is tomatoey and savory, with bold acidity keeping everything in order. Vintus LLC.\r\n\r\n\r\nVi\u00f1a San Pedro\r\nMolina, Curic\u00f3 Valley\r\nYear Founded: 1865\r\nCurrent Ownership: Compa\u00f1\u00eda de Cervecer\u00edas Unidas (CCU), S.A.\r\nEven in its earliest days, San Pedro was destined to become a benchmark Chilean winery and a leading exporter. Originally, it relied on the lowly Pa\u00eds grape, but cofounders Bonifacio and Jos\u00e9 Gregorio Correa Albano would turn to known French grape varieties to push their fledgling winery in the Curic\u00f3 Valley to new heights.\r\n\r\nSan Pedro became a registered brand in Chile in 1885, and by the time of World War II, the wines were exported to the U.S. and Canada, as well as Germany and Japan. Over the following decade, approximately 15% of sales came from outside the country.\r\n\r\nIn the 1940s, a German firm, Wagner and Stein, bought the winery and ran it until 1960. Fourteen years later, San Pedro was sold to a Spanish corporation. In 1994, it changed hands to Chile-based Compa\u00f1\u00eda de Cervecer\u00edas Unidas (CCU), which took the company public as Vi\u00f1a San Pedro S.A.\r\n\r\nToday, San Pedro is part of the VSPT Wine Group, which is 83% owned by CCU, controlled by the Luksic family. Another 12.5% of VSPT Wine Group is owned by Chinese-based Jiangsu Yanghe Distillery Co., Ltd, while the remaining 4.5% is owned by other shareholders.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWine Enthusiast\u2019s 2011 New World Winery of the Year, Vi\u00f1a San Pedro now produces more than four million cases annually across multiple quality tiers and price points.\r\n\r\nFrom its entry-level GatoNegro wines up to its signature Cabo de Hornos Cabernet Sauvignon, San Pedro relies on grapes from nearly every winegrowing spot in Chile. Its home remains Molina, in Curic\u00f3 Valley, however, where it maintains more than 2,400 acres of vines.\r\n\r\nUnder CEO Pedro Herane, the VSPT Wine Group has consolidated and refocused in recent years. For example, Alta\u00efr in the Cachapoal Valley, which VSPT acquired some years ago, is now a San Pedro wine.\r\n\r\nOther San Pedro wines of prestige are Tierras Moradas Carmen\u00e8re from the Maule Valley and Kankana Syrah from Elqui Valley. Brands like Vi\u00f1a Tarapac\u00e1 and Santa Helena in Chile, and Finca La Celia in Argentina, round out the VSPT family.\r\n\r\nSan Pedro 2017 Cabo de Hornos Cabernet Sauvignon (Cachapoal Valley); $60, 91 points. Aromas of tobacco, green herbs, spice and black fruits open this full-bodied Cabernet that\u2019s saucy in feel. Grainy oak, mint and herbal berry flavors are familiar for Chilean Cab, while this tastes lightly herbal and minty on a plump, warm finish. Drink through 2025. Shaw-Ross International Importers.\r\n\r\n\r\nVi\u00f1a Concha y Toro\r\nPirque, Maipo Valley\r\nYear Founded: 1883\r\nCurrent Ownership: Guilisasti, Larra\u00edn and Fontecilla families, and publicly traded\r\nFounded in the Santiago suburb of Pirque, Vi\u00f1a Concha y Toro is now the biggest name in Chilean wine. In fact, it\u2019s one of the five biggest wine producers in the world. It was named Wine Enthusiast\u2019s New World Winery of the Year in 2004, and currently produces more than 15 million cases annually.\r\n\r\nVineyard holdings are at the heart of Concha y Toro\u2019s clout. It owns more than 21,000 acres, and its wines reach more than 130 countries.\r\n\r\nMuch of what Concha y Toro bottles is mass-market wine\u2014a winery cannot be expected to pump out more than 15 million cases of ultrapremium wine per year, after all. But within that figure you\u2019ll find some of the most iconic wines in Chile.\r\n\r\nBenchmarks include Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, which, starting with the 2017 vintage, will be labeled as an independent winery called Vi\u00f1a Don Melchor. There\u2019s also Almaviva, a joint venture with Baron Philippe de Rothschild of France that began in the 1990s.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMarcelo Papa, who built the Marqu\u00e9s de Casa Concha midtier line from a startup into a powerhouse, is the head winemaker. He is a terroir hunter, and wines made by him are fresher and more consistent than those at any time in Concha y Toro\u2019s history.\r\n\r\nFounded by Don Melchor Concha y Toro, shares of Vi\u00f1a Concha y Toro were issued to a slew of family members in 1921. The winery then went public in 1933, with shares traded on the Santiago Stock Exchange. Today, three prominent families control 39% of the company.\r\n\r\nConcha y Toro 2016 Don Melchor Puente Alto Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Puente Alto); $120, 93 points. Well-concentrated berry aromas include rich notes of chocolate, tobacco and earth on this plush yet restrained Cabernet. Spicy berry and cocoa flavors finish dry, long and with a hint of clove. Given the documented difficulties in Chile during 2016, this can hold its head up. Drink through 2026. Fetzer Vineyards.\r\n\r\n\r\nVi\u00f1a Santa Carolina\r\nSantiago, Maipo Valley\r\nYear Founded: 1875\r\nCurrent Ownership: Larra\u00edn family\r\nDecades ago, a humming wine industry existed within the city limits of Santiago, Chile\u2019s capital. Modern-day realities saw almost all of the city\u2019s bodegas and vineyards converted to housing or other commercial ventures. Not so with Santa Carolina, one of Chile\u2019s last urban wineries.\r\n\r\nPart of Carolina Wine Brands and Wine Enthusiast\u2019s 2015 New World Winery of the Year, Vi\u00f1a Santa Carolina has been owned by the Larra\u00edn family since 1974. It no longer maintains vineyards in Santiago proper, but its underground cal y canto cellars within the city enjoy National Heritage Monument status. They are the only original buildings to have survived an 8.8-magnitude quake in 2010 to still be used today.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFounder Luis Pereira named the winery after his wife, Carolina I\u00f1iguez, beloved for her romanticism and big heart. The brand\u2019s first winemaker was Germain Bachelet, an antecedent of Chile\u2019s recent two-term president, Michelle Bachelet.\r\n\r\nFrom the earliest days of Santa Carolina, Reserva de Familia Cabernet Sauvignon has been its flagship wine. One of the first bottlings won a gold medal at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle, and the 2015 vintage ranked third in \u201cThe Enthusiast 100 of 2018\u201d top wine list.\r\n\r\nAndr\u00e9s Caballero, the head winemaker, oversees production of 2.2 million cases per year that are sold in 80 countries. One of Caballero\u2019s goals is to pay homage to Santa Carolina\u2019s rich heritage via a range of new yet traditional wines.\r\n\r\nOne example is a throwback ultrapremium Cabernet Sauvignon that he introduced. Called Luis Pereira, it\u2019s made with little new oak and alcohol levels as low as 12.5%. For a bigger taste of Chile, Herencia, which means \u201cheritage,\u201d is a full-bodied Carmen\u00e8re, one of the best that the country produces.\r\n\r\nSanta Carolina 2015 VSC (Cachapoal Valley); $70, 93 points. Smooth blackberry and cassis aromas are spicy and only slightly herbal. On the palate, this blend of Petite Sirah and four Bordeaux grapes is flush, with a cheeky acidic bite. Blackberry, black cherry, chocolate and baking spice flavors extend onto a long finish propelled by acidity. Drink through 2027. Carolina Wine Brands USA.\r\n\r\n\r\nCousi\u00f1o-Macul\r\nPe\u00f1alolen, Maipo Valley\r\nYear Founded: 1856\r\nCurrent Ownership: Carlos, Emilio and Arturo Cousi\u00f1o Vald\u00e9s\r\nAmong Chile\u2019s heritage wineries, Cousi\u00f1o-Macul, headquartered on the outskirts of Santiago in an area called Macul, is the only one that has remained entirely in the hands of its founding family.\r\n\r\nMat\u00edas Cousi\u00f1o purchased nearly 2,500 acres and began to raise cattle and tend to tree fruits and table grapes 163 years ago. That property, originally known as Hacienda de Macul, became a serious wine estate under his son, Luis, and his wife, Isidora Goyenechea.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn 1862, Luis Cousi\u00f1o and his wife came back from a trip to France with vine cuttings from Bordeaux, Alsace, Graves and other parts of the country, with the idea of starting an industry capable of producing fine wine\u201d says seventh-generation owner Veronica Cousi\u00f1o. \u201cWe say there were actually two generations of founders: Mat\u00edas bought the land, but Luis planted the vines. And we can\u2019t forget Isidora. She was our \u2018Dama de Plata,\u2019 or \u2018Lady of Silver.\u2019 Her stewardship in the early years after her husband died made the winery what it is today.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThings are now run by Veronica Cousi\u00f1o\u2019s father and two uncles, with her generation next up. Cousi\u00f1o-Macul produces about 250,000 cases per year, which doesn\u2019t necessarily make it a big winery by Chilean standards. However, its wines have always been quintessentially Chilean in style, intense and structured, with aromas and flavors of mint, spice, tobacco, eucalyptus and bold berry fruit.\r\n\r\nWhile Cousi\u00f1o-Macul maintains its original winery and beautiful gardens in Macul, its vineyards have all but gone away. Decades of urban expansion has forced the Cousi\u00f1os to sell off much of their land.\r\n\r\nThat said, they still maintain around 200 acres of old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Macul, which yield the winery\u2019s top wines, Lota and Finis Terrae. And to augment production, the firm now also has a modern winery and about 1,000 acres of vines in Bu\u00edn, located further south in the Maipo Valley.\r\n\r\nCousi\u00f1o-Macul 2014 Finis Terrae (Maipo Valley); $25, 90 points. Ripe, earthy, mature aromas of berry fruits, prune and forest spice are true to what is quality Maipo Valley red wine. This blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 11% Syrah is wide in body, while flavors of raisin and plum are touched up by chocolate and herbal notes on a finish that\u2019s not shy with the oak. Drink now. MundoVino\u2013Winebow.