Heading into Chilean Wine Country — Elqui Valley


Growing grapes for Pisco

Growing grapes for Pisco

Ever tasted Pisco?  Well, you’re in for a treat over the next several weeks as we explore the region famous for Pisco.  That would be the Elqui Valley region of Chile.  Hope you enjoy the visit.

Elqui Valley

Elqui Valley

One of the first sights our tour guide pointed out to us upon our entrance into Elqui Valley was the observatory atop Cerro Tololo.  This observatory is part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory group that also runs Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona.

Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory

Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory

Notice the barren mountains surrounding this lush valley?  The Elqui Valley is located in the midst of the driest hot-weather desert on Earth.  This is the Atacama Desert, where annual rainfall reaches about .6 inches/15mm.  Yet, in the midst of this harshness you’ll find lots of these:

Pisco on the Vine

Pisco on the Vine

How is that possible?  Why is this mid-desert valley so fertile?  Because of the Elqui River, which is fed by snow runoff from the Andes Mountains to the east.  That’s why you see so many vineyards here — plentiful water to keep grapevines alive, yet the ideal conditions for stressing them to produce the best possible grapes for wines.

The fertile Elqui Valley

The fertile Elqui Valley

You get some truly magnificent photos from the roads overlooking this valley.  It’s fascinating to see all this green surrounded by the harshest of deserts.

Elqui Vineyard

Elqui Vineyard

Here are two more examples:

Elqui Valley vineyard

Elqui Valley vineyard

Elqui Valley

Elqui Valley

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Filed under Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation, Wine & Food

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