Chile: History

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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The vinifera vine, and deliberate cultivation of it for wine, was brought to the Americas by the Spanish (see south america, history). Cortés imported vine cuttings, or more probably seeds, directly from Spain to Mexico where the first successful American vintage was produced, but it is not clear whether the vines first cultivated in the mid 16th century at Cuzco in peru, the progenitors of the Chilean wine industry, came from Mexico or directly from Spain or Portugal. It is generally agreed, however, that Spanish settlers brought the vine to Chile some time in the 1550s, the vine probably arriving in the Central Valley with Juan Jufre and Diego Garcia de Cáceres in 1554. This was partly so that the early Spanish settlers could celebrate the eucharist with its produce. Specific grape varieties mentioned by the Jesuit priest Alonso Ovalle include Moscatel, Torontel, Albilho, Mollar, and ‘the common black grape’ (presumably related to the pais).