Maipo Valley, located just south of Santiago is the most famous, yet one of the smallest wine areas. Production here is split between white and red grapes with Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon being the most important. Santiago, Pirque, Puente Alto, Talagante, Llano del Maipo and Buin are official sub-zones of the Maipo.
Rainfall averages about 12 inches a year, most of which is the result of sporadic storms. Irrigation is common, although the water can be high in salt around the Maipo River from which the area takes its name. Potassium levels tend to be low.
The valley is quite large and altitudes vary up to 1,000 meters above sea level. It is divided into three sections based on altitude – the high, middle and low Maipo.
High Maipo includes the zones of Macul, Pirque and Puente Alto where vineyards, which are close to the Andes, are influenced by the cold currents that make their way through this part of the valley. Wines from this area offer intense tannins and are very well structured.
Middle Mapio is made up of the districts of Alto Jahuel, Buin and Huelquen at an altitude of around 550-650 meters and produces very fruity wines.
Low Maipo corresponds to the valley’s lowest and flattest zone. This area includes the districts of Calera de Tango, Talgante and Isla de Maipo. Temperatures are warmer here and produce wines with soft fruit and sweeter tannins.
Maipo houses the headquarters of many of the major wine-producing companies including Concha y Toro.