Following in the footsteps of Chilean wineries that have begun releasing Cabernets retailing from $40, ViRa Santa Rita -- which is perhaps best known in the United States for its numerous value-priced bottlings -- plans to introduce a new high-end Cabernet Sauvignon from a single vineyard in Apalta. The winery is also expanding its production of white wines from the Casablanca Valley.
Santa Rita has had the Cabernet vineyard in Apalta under contract for some time and has used the grapes in their Medalla Real line. But the vineyard's hillside location, old vines, low yields, gravelly soil and unusually tight vine-spacing make it an ideal site for producing high-quality fruit, so the decision was made to start bottling the wine separately.
The 1999 vintage will be the first release, but Santa Rita has not yet decided on a name, price or release date for the wine.
Santa Rita has also increased its vineyard holdings. In the Casablanca Valley, the winery now has 1,000 recently planted acres in production, and an additional 1,000 acres will begin producing in the next few years, bringing the winery's total holdings to nearly 5,000 acres of vineyards.
The new Casablanca holdings have been planted primarily to Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, which thrive in the cooler Casablanca climate. Some red varieties have also been planted. The grapes will be used for all of Santa Rita's lines.
Check out recent ratings of Santa Rita wines.
Learn more about Chilean wines:
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions