It's impossible to encapsulate a renowned wine-producing country in a short list. But we're not letting that stop us from suggesting 10 wineries that you should remember the next time you're in Chile -- or, maybe, just the next time you're ordering off an impressive wine list here in the Bay Area.
The winery touts quality bottles from many vineyards, but find the Los Lingues Gran Reserva carmenere, and you'll have an ideal example of Chile's signature varietal.
Concha y Toro
Chile's largest and arguably most renowned winery is also one of its oldest, and its range of wines starts with what you might find at Trader Joe's and ends with the Don Melchor brand that will empty your wallet and please your palate.
"Organic" is often a catch phrase companies spew to cash in on today's tastes. At Emiliana in the Casablanca Valley near the coast, the preferred term is "biodynamic" -- and it means something. Trees have been planted to act as natural dust collectors; chickens help clear out the insects below the vines; and the grapes are harvested according to the moon's cycle.
Chile is known for its bold reds, but this winery in the Leyda Valley near the Pacific coast specializes in the white varietals and pinot noir of its Amayna line.
The French family behind Grand Marnier liqueur invites oenophiles to one of the Colchagua Valley's most beautiful vineyards. The Clos Apalta label from the Apalta vineyard garners some of Chile's highest wine ratings, and you can stay steps from the grapes in the luxury casitas that are favorites for the well-to-do.
If you visit one winery in Chile, make it this one. Montes exemplifies what the Colchagua Valley experience is all about: stunning carmenere and cabernet sauvignon blends with an easygoing vineyard experience that caters to both Spanish- and English-speakers. Pay the extra bucks to taste from the Icons selections: The Purple Angel is primarily carmenere, and the high-end Alpha M line harnesses some of the region's best cabernet sauvignon.
Vina Santa Cruz
Much of the wine is affordable and nothing to turn down, and exploring the vineyard is one of the Colchagua Valley's top experiences. Ride the chairlift high above the vines, pet the llamas and take in the mini-museums that depict indigenous cultures.
Vina von Siebenthal
This relatively young winery founded and run by a Swiss former lawyer focuses on high-end blends that incorporate some of Chile's favorite grapes: carmenere, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, cabernet franc and merlot.
How's your pocketbook looking? This vineyard in the Maipo Valley produces some of the the country's highest-rated and most-limited bottles of cabernet sauvignon. Ask a Chilean, and they'll tell you this is some of the world's best wine.
Stop by the original vineyard in the Colchagua Valley for a simple yet sophisticated meal and then take a tour of one of the country's oldest vineyards, where some of the vines are more than 100 years old. For an affordable bottle you won't forget, order from the Secreto line, which has one rule for the blends: What's in them is a secret.
Follow Tim O'Rourke at Twitter.com/timothyorourke.