Wine Tourism in Chile: The Maule Valley Wine Route

“The largest area of “heritage” vineyards is found in the Maule Valley. Heritage vines are those planted in Chile at least a hundred years ago…”

Bernardita Troncoso is the president of the board of directors of the Association of the Maule Valley Wine Route, and responsible for the publicity and events area of Viña Las Veletas.

Marcela Leni is the manager of the Maule Valley Wine Route, graduated from the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso.

Bernardita Troncoso, president of the Maule Valley Wine Route

AgriBrasilis – What is the Maule Valley Wine Route?

Leni and Troncoso – We are a commercial association formed by 20 vineyards in the Maule Valley. Our organization was established in January of 2000, and fulfills the mission of promoting and disseminating wine tourism in the Maule Valley.

We represent more than 30% of the total area of vineyards and of the volume of wine produced throughout the Maule Valley, being the most representative organization in the region.

Marcela Leni, manager of the Maule Valley Wine Route

The Maule Valley has the largest cultivated area of vineyards in Chile, with 34,180 hectares, where white and red grapes of French origin are grown, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as “heritage” grapes, such as País and Moscatel.

The largest area of “heritage” vineyards is found in the Maule Valley. Heritage vines are those planted in Chile at least a hundred years ago, going back to colonial times.

There is a wide variety of vineyards in the region. 22 cultivars of white grapes and 40 types of red grapes are grown. The types of soil, varieties and climate generate different terroirs, creating unique and high quality wines.

There are vineyards from the shores of Lake Colbún to Chanco, 10 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean.

The region also has a great diversity of landscapes: there are mountain ranges such as Laguna del Maule and Passo Pehuenche, in addition to the Panimavida, Quinamavida and Catillo hot springs, etc.

AgriBrasilis – The “País” variety, produced mainly in the Maule Valley, had a 20% drop in production in 2022. Why did this happen and what are the containment plans for the next harvest?

Leni and Troncoso – This variety is defined by three productive characteristics: it is rainfed, that is, it only receives rainwater, so it is without irrigation. It is carried out through the “en cabeza” management [a system of free conduction of the vine, without support, where the leaves protect the grapes from excessive heat] and with manual harvesting, carried out by a majority of small and medium-sized farmers.

This drop in production happened because of the drought in Chile, that has been sustained over the last 15 to 20 years, associated with the high temperatures recorded during the summer harvest.

The País variety has a long history of adapting to difficult climatic situations, taking into account its almost 500 years of permanence in our country. It is a variety with good adaptability to climate change and great resilience.

To avoid further losses, we are focusing on maintaining the balance between crown and roots and not overloading or demanding too much from the plants.

AgriBrasilis – What are the wine tourism initiatives in the region?

Leni and Troncoso – We are running the Trem Sabores do Maule (Flavours from Maule Train) with great success, an exclusive wine tourism service that leaves from the Central Train Station and does not stop until reaching the Maule Valley.

Trem Sabores do Maule is a train ride with live music, wine tasting, and guided tour of the vineyards. Twice a month during the summer and once a month during the rest of the year, 120 to 150 tourists visit vineyards and cellars.

In addition, we organize personalized tasting activities on a monthly basis, with the aim of motivating associated wineries to create a wine tourism unit in their vineyards.

In recent years, we have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Wine tourism in the Maule Valley had to come to a complete standstill, that made us focus exclusively on promoting the region through social media. The export scenario was also deeply affected, particularly to Asia.


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