Chile's viticultural history dates back to the 16th century when Spanish conquerors found in Chile the ideal place to plant vines. The local soil was free of phylloxera and the climate allowed a perfect growing season and ripening of the fruit. On the back of cultural exchanges and new waves of European settlers, the 19th century saw the introduction of French wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenère and Cabernet Franc. However, it was not until the 1980s that new technologies such as stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels were introduced. They led to an increase in quality wine, vineyards expanded and a steady growth in exports soon followed. In recent years, new vineyards are being planted away from coastal regions to places higher-up in the Andes, previously deemed unfit for viticulture. A new breed of winemakers are steering clear from extensive vineyards and increasingly focusing on smaller terroirs with the potential to bring a unique sense of origin to wine.
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