Elqui Valley (wine region)
The Elqui Valley Denomination of Origin (DO) is defined by the Chilean appellation system, the legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown.
The Elqui Valley wine region 400 km (250 mi) north of Santiago lies at the southern end of the Atacama Desert in the Coquimbo region. It is known for producing table grapes and other fruits, as well as pisco brandy, Chile’s most popular liquor. But it is also notable for being the most commercially viable wine-producing region of northern Chile. The region’s vineyards extend from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Andes Mountains in the east, and rise to an elevation of 2,000 m.a.s.l. (6,500 feet). Wine production began in the Elqui Valley in the 1990s when Chilean wine producers began to look at potential viticulture sites outside the Chilean Central Valley. Since then, 286 ha (707 acres) of vines have been planted, mostly along the River Elqui valley, where grape growers have access to high-quality water for irrigation.
The region is characterized by a sunny, desert-like climate, less than 70 millimetres (2.8 in) of annual rainfall, dry rocky terrain, steep valleys and temperate hills cooled by strong winds from the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, producing excellent results for varietals like Syrah.
Grape distribution by varietal
- Climate: cool, desert climate, <70 mm (2.8 in) annual rainfall.
- Soils: clay, silt and chalk.
- Primary grapes: Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.
|Cabernet Sauvignon: 25 ha (62 acres)||Sauvignon Blanc: 72 ha (178 acres)||Carmenere: 60 ha (148 acres)|
|Syrah: 87 ha (215 acres)||Pinot Noir: 19 ha (47 acres)||Chardonnay: 23 ha (57 acres)|
- Total hectares planted: 286 ha (707 acres)