Wine grapes were brought from Europe to the New World by Spanish conquistadors and Jesuit missionaries as early as the 16th century. Today, South America is home to two wine-producing giants: Chile and Argentina. Whether you like Argentine malbec or Chilean carmenere, here's what you need to know about wine tours in the region.
Wine in Chile
Between the desert of Atacama and the glaciers of Patagonia lie a string of valleys between the mountains and the sea where conditions are ideal for wine production. Many wine tours in the country begin in Valparaiso, one of the world's great wine capitals and a gateway to the vineyards of the central region and the Colchagua, Maipo, and Casablanca valleys. Take a day trip to a winery in the Casablanca Valley from Santiago or base yourself in the area for guided tastings and leisurely cycling tours through the scenic vineyards.
Wine in Argentina
Mendoza is Argentina's most well-known wine region, thanks to the explosive popularity of malbec. Set at the base of the Andes mountains, the wineries and vineyards of Lujan de Cuyo, Maipu, and the Uco Valley set the scene for wine tours of all sorts, from a winery bus tour to an experience focused exclusively on sparkling wines. But, the country has several other worthy regions as well. The high-altitude slopes of Salta in northern Argentina, for example, produce Torrontes, the country's only native wine grape.