Written for WinesofChile.org
Casablanca’s elevation to Wine Capital status comes not only on the back of its awesome wines but also its capital of cool, Valparaiso. This funky port town shows the world Chile’s wild side: arty, edgy and plenty of parties.
A favourite of backpackers, Chilean students and beach lovers, Valparaiso is a mecca for artists, graffiti admirers, Pablo Neruda fans and good-timers. The city is awash with colour from the brightly painted houses to the ubiquitous graffiti murals all over the walls. Earlier this year it was picked as one of the 15 most colourful cities in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine and it frequently tops the lists as a ‘must see’ destination in Latin America.
Casablanca winemaker (and DJ) Grant Phelps from Casas del Bosque – who isn’t shy of a good party himself – chose to live in Valparaiso 3 years ago. “It is the cultural capital of Chile,” says Grant, “there is loads of theatre and music. Plus it is, and always has been, Chile’s most cosmopolitan city.” During its affluent port town history, Valparaiso became home to many Europeans and continues to attract foreigners for its bohemian appeal. “Valparaiso is definitely the most vibrant city in Chile and it’s also the graffiti capital – probably of South America.”
Casablanca as a wine region is pretty rocking too. In the 70s, most people thought winemakers were crazy for planting vines on the cold, misty slopes of the valley. Little did they know that these revolutionary winemakers were paving the way for cool climate wine production in Chile and the Americas. Their ‘locura’ paid off as the wines won international accolades and the booming wine region is now world-renowned for its modern Sauvignon Blancs, Syrahs and Pinot Noir in particular.
As all eyes turn onto Chile’s new place on the wine capital list, the verve of Valparaiso and pioneering character of Casablanca make them an ideal base to start exploring the unlimited diversity of Chilean wine and travel.