The Casablanca and San Antonio valleys are often compared to California's Sonoma and Russian River valleys. Although they neighbor each other, their wines and their wineries couldn't be more distinct. Casablanca is centered around the Rte. 68 highway that connects Viña del Mar and Valparaíso with Santiago. Until recently, the region was mostly dairy farms. Winemaker Pablo Morandé saw parallels here to California's Carneros region, and in 1982 he planted 20 hectares (49 acres) of chardonnay, riesling, and sauvignon blanc. His hypothesis proved right: Today Casablanca is considered the great discovery in wine valleys in the modern era of winemaking, and it now produces most of Chile's white wines and some pinot noirs. The Casablanca Valley is known for its slick wine-tasting facilities, high-volume visitor capacities, and a couple of stylish restaurants. Many visitors stop here on the way out to Viña del Mar or Valparaíso.
San Antonio is the newest, tiniest, and most "happening" wine appellation in Chile, with only four boutique wineries that focus on quality, not quantity, producing Chile's finest pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, and syrah. Plan your visit here in conjunction with a visit to Pablo Neruda's museum in Isla Negra.