THE ITATA VALLEY

The Itata Valley is located in the region of Ñuble. This winegrowing zone has its own denomination of origin and is the biggest and oldest in southern Chile. The valley sits in the transitional space between

the temperate north and the rainy south.

The valley consists of an extensive watershed basin with a large  number of rivers. Among them, and the most important, is the Itata River. It has its origins at Confluencia, the place where the Ñuble and Digullín rivers converge. 

The history of wine in the Itata Valley was born at the feet of these three rivers with the arrival of the first colonial settlers more than 5 centuries ago. 

LA POSADA

The origins

500 YEARS OF HISTORY

 IN 6 TEMPOS

This battle between the Spanish and the local Auracanian people took place between 

Confluencia and the Cucha Cucha hills. It marked the start of the Auraco saga and the history of the Itata Valley. From colonial times to chilean independence the valley has been the stage for a series of key events in our country’s history.

La Araucana : poema / de D. Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga. Ed. ilustrada. Madrid : Impr. y Libr. de J. Gaspar Editor, 1884. 168 p.

In the early years of the colony the lack of wine was something very noticeable, 

especially considering that society was deeply rooted in Latin and Christian traditions, where wine is a fundamental part of the rituals.

Francisco de Carabantes, a Spanish cleric, 

introduced the first grape wine varieties; País

(or Listán Prieto) and Moscatel in 1548. 

Studies have shown that the current vines found in Itata are direct descendants of these first plants.

VALLE DEL ITATA

After the first vines arrived immediate efforts to cultivate them began. An important turning point in the development of winemaking came from the contributions of a Jesuit Order ‘la Compañía de Jesus’. When they arrived in the country in 1563, they introduced new 

machinery, equipment, and techniques, 

eventually becoming prominent wine 

producers. The school of La Concepción came to own seven estates in the region of Itata. Among them is the historic Cucha Cucha estate.

Tomas Lopez compuesto por el mapa manuscrito de Poncho Chileno, Madrid 1777

Shortly after the first vines were introduced, the wine produced in the Itata Valley started to gain fame throughout the kingdom of 

Chile, eventually becoming known as ‘El Vino de Chile’. ‘Pipeño’ or wine aged in big rauli vats or ‘pipas’ was famous for being the 

purest wine of the highest quality. 

By 1870 the Itata Valley was responsible for 80% of national wine production.

Bodega viña La Rosa. Peumo, 1968.| ARQ (Santiago)  n.54 Santiago jul. 2003

French-style wines, introduced to Chile from 1850, started to be positioned higher than wines produced in the Itata Valley.  Around 1920 the wine production from the central valleys exceeded production from the Itata Valley.  Added to this, were excess wine production, famine, and a very big problem with alcoholism. As a consequence at the beginning of the 60s the valley was plunged into a long period of economic decline, lasting up to the mid-2000s. The ancestral varieties began to be forgotten and ‘Pipeño’ was no longer synonymous with quality.

Bodega viña La Rosa. Peumo, 1968.| ARQ (Santiago)  n.54 Santiago jul. 2003

After a long lethargic period, the valley and its winegrowers have managed to wake up and reconnect with its origins. There is a great collective will to rescue heritage 

varieties and the history and traditions of the valley. Big efforts are being made to promote the cultural heritage of the valley’s winegrowing, to keep it from deteriorating and stop it being forgotten. It is about retelling a story rarely heard, but one which has given rise to the true wine of Chile. 

Viña Prado año 2020

© 2020 by Viña Prado

 

Fundo La Posada s/n

Portezuelo 

Ñuble, Chile

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