Chile has a history of wine production going back to the mid 16th century, when Spanish missionaries established vineyards of El País grapes. In 1851 French grapes were introduced, and by the turn of the 21st century, Cabernet Sauvignon became the most planted grape.
Most vineyards in Chile spread between 50 miles north, and 150 miles south, of Santiago, the country’s largest city.
Of special interest to viticulture aficionados, Chile is now the largest producer of Carménère, one of the most ancient European varieties. An obscure grape from Bordeaux, the variety was inadvertently preserved in Chile, after a virus all but destroyed the original growths in France of the variety. Chile’s comparatively low rainfall, has thus far prevented the spread of the same disease.
According to data provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database of the United Nations (FAOSTAT), Chile produced 1046000 tonnes of wine in 2011. This was second only to Argentina within Central and South America, and places Chile as the ninth largest producer of wine globally, despite a population of just 17 million. Chile produces %159 more wine per capita than Argentina.
*Statistics provided by FAOSTAT: http://faostat.fao.org/