Home Chile The Steep Slopes of Apalta, Colchagua Valley

The Steep Slopes of Apalta, Colchagua Valley


Riding the Mountains of Apalta in a WWII Mercedes

Our second day in Chile, we drove a few hours south of Santiago to the Colchagua Valley in order to tour the steep sloped sub-region of Apalta (160 km/99 mi). The area is largely protected forests, with a limit of only 6 wineries allowed to grow up the hillsides. No further vineyard development is allowed.

The tour through Apalta included a couple hours on mountain roads in the back of a WWII-era Mercedes truck. The region stands along a transverse range, mountains that reach East-West between Chile’s coastal and Andes mountains. The Apalta Valley, then, grows in an elevated mid-zone that carries the diurnal shift of an Andes influence, with the cooling winds of the ocean reach.

WWII era Mercedes Truck

Apalta’s climate suits red wine grapes, with few whites planted in the area. The zone hosts various clay loams, differing in color by mineral content. These producers in Chile tend to develop their plantings based on extensive soil studies, with varieties matching mineral and water demands. The red soils in Apalta include a wealth of iron over granite. Yellow soils are higher in silica. The brown soils include more organic materials.

Climbing the slopes of Apalta

Vina Vintisquero began making wine in 2000. Apalta hosts the winery’s premium wines.

Sergio Hormazábal,

Sergio Hormazabal, one of the winemakers of Vina Ventisquero, in charge of the wineries red wine making, as well as its Root: 1 brand, guided our trip.

Alyssa Vitrano

Alyssa Vitrano looking out as we climb the Valley

Looking into the Apalta Valley

looking up the Valley after the first climb

Cabernet on a steep slope of Apalta

terraced Cabernet Sauvignon plantings

Apalta Valley

Apalta Valley

looking down Valley from the highest point of the vineyards

Apalta Valley

Sergio explaining vine development in Apalta

Sergio Hormazabal explaining structural development of the vine

Apalta Valley

Carmenere in Apalta Valley

Carmenere’s young leaves show copper, and the shoots copper and green vertical stripes, two of the vines definitive characteristics.

After our vineyard slope tour we ventured to the top of the Cabernet Sauvignon terraced vineyard to taste through the Vina Ventisquero portfolio.

Sergio preparing us for a Vina Ventisquero tasting

Sergio Hormazabal preparing us for the tasting. We tasted through multiple tiers and vintages of Vina Ventisquero wines.

Some of Vina Ventisquero wines, Root 1, crazy good value

Vina Ventisquero includes a value focused wine of four varietals, the Root: 1 collection. The quality for price here blows all kinds of stuff out of the water–juicy, clean fruit, varietal expression throughout, with a classic (sinewy+juicy flavorful) Chilean expression–more on that to come.


Thank you to Sergio Hormazabal.

Thank you to Marilyn Krieger, and David Greenberg.

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  1. Impressive views and wines!!! We brought a few US, Mexican and Romanian winemakers to the winery and were super impressed!! If you find yourself in Santiago again we would invite you to visit our cooperage where we produce French, European and American Oak Barrels and Alternatives for the world market. Toneleria Nacional in Colina, Santiago is known here in the US as Mistral Barrels. Salute!! Michael

    • Hello Michael,
      Thank you! Your cooperage is something I’d very much like to see. I hope to return soon to include a visit with you. Thank you for extending the invitation. I very much enjoy Chile and look forward to returning. Lots of juicy, enjoyable wines.
      Cheers! Elaine

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