For all those who enjoy the good life and want to discover one of Chile’s “musts”, we recommend Isla de Maipo, a small town in Central Chile, located in the heart of the Maipo Valley in Santiago’s Metropolitan Region.
Isla de Maipo is known worldwide as a wine destination thanks to its wineries. Furthermore, its country traditions, history and cultural heritage that still remain alive, make the visit to Isla de Maipo a truly unforgettable experience if you come with a good guide that leads you, tells you about the most interesting details and shows you the unrevealed secrets of the place.
The essence of the region, fresh, green and traditional, has its origin in a melting pot of local cultural roots and European influence where you can appreciate an international projection based on the quality of local products and a concern for a brand image.
In Isla de Maipo you can find the huasos (Chilean traditional countrymen) with family-run wineries where wine is produced and aged using traditional methods passed from generation to generation. Places where you will feel at home and taste wines in a friendly, welcoming and family atmosphere. Or big names of the Maipo Valley where you can enjoy some of the classic or more innovative local wines.
The valley of the Maipo River is the main agricultural and winemaking area of the Metropolitan Region of Santiago.
It’s a place with an abundance of water resources and a variety of fruit and vegetable orchards. Its vineyards produce an outstanding wine due to its Mediterranean climate, its alluvial stony soil, its humidity and coolness, its microclimate and its proximity to the coastal mountain range.
Vineyards and Wineries
The history of wine production in Isla de Maipo began in the 18th century, when descendants of the Spanish pioneer Juan López de Córdova introduced and cultivated the first fruit trees and vines on the banks of the Maipo River, which at that time formed a delta filled with islands.
Its vineyards were the first to have a variety of delicate vines brought from Europe. As early as 1874, the visionary Chilean businessman Don Francisco de Rojas y Salamanca, imported fine vines from France and established a vineyard on the foothills of the Andes mountains in the Maipo Valley, planting grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot for red wine, and Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for white wine. These vines were brought to Chile before they were infected by phylloxera, so the vines didn’t need to be grafted for protection against the plague and they remained pure. That vineyard was the origin of the renowned Viña Tarapacá.
Tarapacá winery obtained its first international award at the “Centennial International Exhibition, 1878, Philadelphia, United States” two years after it was founded.
Wine production increased in the 19th century, due to the efforts of family-run wineries who used the most traditional methods to produce their wine. Some of these families still continue with this centenary tradition and the same methods of producing their vintage wine.
The revolution that has given Maipo Valley a distinct and unique personality began in the 20th century. Families with a wine production tradition from Navarra in Spain (Gil Family) and Italy: Italian Riviera (Cánepa Family – Terramater Winery), Vignanello (de Martino Family – de Martino Winery) and Piamonte (Pavone Family – Santa Ema Winery) settled in Isla de Maipo and brought with them their knowledge and techniques.
Some of the best ranked Chilean wines are produced in Isla de Maipo. Some well known examples that speak for themselves include Tarapacá, Santa Ema, Terramater, De Martino and Miraflores.
The continuous frontages along streets such as Santelices, that still keep the colonial architecture, are a typical sign of Isla de Maipo.
Some of the houses still preserve their external corridors and on their sidewalks grow magnificent centenary oriental plane trees. Isla de Maipo has been granted official recognition as historical preservation zone by Chile’s government.
Nature – Naltahua, Altos de Cantillana
Naltahua is a rural location close to Isla de Maipo, with small farms worked by country families known as huasos.
It is located within an area called Cordón de Cantillana, the number one location for biodiversity preservation in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago.
Old gold and copper mines of Naltahua
The first written data comes from the seventeenth century, when the mine was a Royal Encomienda given to the Spaniard Don Ignacio de la Carrera e Iturgoyen and the mineral was extracted by the native indians.
The mines continued to be exploited in the 19th century by small owners. Due to the high quality and quantity of the mineral, the French company “Societé des Mines de Cuivre” decided to establish itself in Naltahua during the first decade of the nineteen hundreds, and continued with its mining activities for over 50 years.
We suggest a trip to the past in which you can imagine the mine buzzing with activity, with thousands of miners working, coming alive again with its old buildings, its big smelting furnaces and the rails and tunnels used to extract and transport the minerals.
Religion – Our Lady of Mercy
The church of Our Lady of Mercy and the people’s religious beliefs are an important tourist attraction due to the miracle of the virgin that took place in Isla de Maipo. This church has the category of Sanctuary and there is an open process at the Vatican to be considered a Basilica.
The festivity of the Virgin of Mercy is one of the best known traditions of Isla de Maipo.
This event takes place every year on the last Sunday in September. The festivity attracts more than 80,000 pilgrims from all over the region and abroad.
Some history about Isla de Maipo