Chile is blessed when it comes to wine production; vines thrive in this isolated haven where phylloxera, the aphid-like pest which feed on the roots destroying the vine entirely, cannot survive. The mighty Andes mountain range lies to the East providing, natural irrigation through the melted snow caps that gush down into the wine country. The Pacific Ocean to the West facilitates vineyard ventilation and cooling via oceanic winds, which are generated by the Antarctic Humboldt Current.
European settlers arrived in the 16th century, bringing vines with them from Spain via California and Peru. Some consistently good wines were produced, which were exported to Europe in the late 19th century due to the endemic European loss of vines and consequently wine- through the rampant phylloxera louse.
Chile plodded along producing mediocre wines mostly for internal consumption until the 1990's, when winemakers felt revived and became more ambitious, fuelled by the abolition of the dictatorship. Investment from prominent names in Europe and the USA provided much needed innovation in terms of technology and foreign consultant wine-makers. This resulted in the emergence of wonderful wines made from a wide range of clones and root stocks, using both international grapes and grape such as Carmenère, which has flourished in Chile for centuries. Bordeaux blend wines - Chardonnay, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc form the back-bone of the premium wine range. Emerging grapes being used include Riesling, Gewurztraiminer and Viognier.