With massive Andean peaks forming the visual backdrop, the Maipo Valley ranks as one of Chile’s most picturesque spots. It’s also home to some of the country’s top wines. Cabernet Sauvignon is king here, with alluvial flows, a persistently sunny climate and cool evenings creating the ideal breeding ground for sumptuous red wines. These bottlings sit handsomely alongside the rich stews and grilled meats typical of the region. Around 30 miles from the buzz of Santiago, Maipo’s traditional haciendas, the occasional roaming huaso (Chilean cowboy) and a countryside pace make the region feel a world away. —Amanda Barnes
Maipo is red-wine territory, boosted by gravel terraces, warm days and cool nights that provide the perfect combination for perfumed wines with silky tannins. Puente Alto is the most prominent Maipo subregion. It produces a trio of iconic Chilean wines: Almaviva, Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor and Viña Errazuriz’s Viñedo Chadwick. These wines should be high on your list to taste, alongside other signature bottlings like Viña Santa Rita’s Casa Real, Viña Aquitania’s Lazuli and Domus Aurea. All are varietal Cabs or Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends, for which the valley is best known.
Where to Taste
Maipo is home to some of the biggest wine brands in Chile. Viña Undurraga offers tours of its soil-analysis test pit and a chance to train your senses in an aroma room. Some of Santa Rita’s tastings include a visit to its Andean museum, while Concha y Toro’s interactive tour of El Casillero del Diablo, or Devil’s Cellar, is unlike any other. For a more intimate tasting, try Viña Aquitania, Viña Pérez Cruz and Viña Antiyal, the latter owned by Chile’s leading biodynamic consultant, Álvaro Espinoza. Gourmands should consider Viña El Principal’s Barbeque tour, featuring a drive to the hilltops where an abundant Chilean asado (barbecue) awaits. Imbibe the region’s signature red blends while feasting your eyes on vines below. Reserve a table at Viña Haras de Pirque’s contemporary restaurant for a wine-paired meal with panoramic views from the horseshoe-shaped terrace.
Where to Dine
Dining in Maipo is often a home-style affair, with hearty Chilean classics served in rural casas del campo. Viña Santa Rita’s Doña Paula Restaurant is a stalwart of the local scene. The historical hacienda was a hideout for Chilean soldiers long before hungry tourists filled its halls. Family-friendly Lo Pirque in the vineyard-heavy Pirque area of Maipo serves traditional cuisine during a presentation of elite equestrianism. Casa Tierra in Buin is a newer but promising bistro that celebrates the valley’s seasonal produce.
Where to Stay
The grand dame of Maipo Valley lodging is Hotel Casa Real, a regal 19th-century home on the grounds of Viña Santa Rita with 16 rooms. Its beautifully landscaped gardens beckon a morning stroll or early evening wine picnic. Venture farther into the nearby Andes mountains to enjoy the woodland hideaway of Hotel Altiplanico Cajón del Maipo. B&Bs, cabins and rental homes also dot the valley, or you can choose from options in Santiago.
When to Go
There’s a charm to each and every season, from winter’s snowy mountain views and skiing to summer hikes to spring’s bloom and fall’s colors.
The area’s ubiquitous mountain terrain attracts adventuresome visitors seeking picturesque hikes, rock climbing, fly fishing and horseback riding in the Cajón del Maipo, a stunning gorge located southeast of Santiago. Visits to the San Francisco Glacier in El Morado National Reserve, El Yeso Reservoir and San José Volcano are all rewarding, best followed by a scenic drive to soak in the Baños Colina hot springs.
Stay in Santiago, where things can be cheaper than in the countryside. Navigate the public bus and Metro system, or do a wine and bike tour from Maipo Valley Wine Tours.