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In the past half- decade, the wineries of Chile’s new wave movement have made significant strides in establishing their nation as one of the world’s premier wine producing countries. Given the fact that Chile’s wine history can be traced back to the Sixteenth Century, this news is probably no real surprise. Scores of new wineries along with a similar number of upgraded existing winery facilities have made Chilean wines a competitor in even the most stringent international wine competitions.

The scenario is not unlike that of California’s Central Coast wine growing and producing region, suddenly on par with the existing wine behemoths of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. It seems hard to believe that Chile, now released from a constricting political climate that handicapped its wine industry for decades, can count its wines among the world’s finest.

Plantings in Chile are also up impressively, with additional acreage rapidly under vine and attention being paid to developing and expanding new wine growing areas on a daily basis. The total acreage under vine has almost doubled since the mid 1990’s, and seems ready to accommodate additional vineyards.

This expansion has been pushed along by advantageous weather conditions throughout the entire country. In fact, the Chilean wine industry seems poised for further expansion and even greater achievements.

What’s interesting about the whole development is the large amounts of capital that has poured into winery construction and expansion. While some of the money had come from outside sources (it has been considered a smart move for wineries in the United States, Europe and elsewhere to invest in Chile), the greater part of all investments have come from Chilean nationals who seem to know a good thing when they see it. Companies in all forms of non-agricultural businesses now have a stake in a Chilean winery, be it large or small. Many have seen early payouts and a small number have enjoyed early financial success.

Chilean wines have always been considered great wines for the price and this continues to be true today. With more consumers aware of price/value relationships of wines, the fact that Chilean wines represent excellent value has also helped the Chilean cause. Many stores and restaurants now offer Chilean sections within their stores or on their wine lists. The fact that many of these wines are now identified by their respective regions within Chile speaks legions to the fact that these wines are highly sought-after. A few restaurants even list an ultra-premium Chilean selection for the most highly regarded wines, an honor formerly reserved for only France and California.

The world stage that is the international wine business has added a new member to compete for its prestigious audience. Chile was a long-shot to accomplish this honor and credit should be given to the growers and vintners that have made it possible.

With entrepreneurial insight such as that expressed by the wineries we've featured from Chile, the momentum for further honors should be easy to continue.