Itata / Chile


Located in southern Chile, Itata is a little known but super interesting wine region. With a unique terroir and its own wine traditions, the region produces some of the most exciting wines in South America. 

Today much of Chile is geared towards either cheap commercial or fancy French influenced wines. Itata is completely different. Here there is a focus on traditional varieties and natural wine styles, particularly reds made from the Carignan and País grape varieties and skin contact wines.


Pipeño are a traditional style of wine that have been produced in Itata and Chile for centuries. The name comes from the Spanish word "pipe" which refers to the large barrels that were traditionally used to ferment and age the wine. 

They are most commonly associated with the red Pais grape but can be made from any variety mix and in any colour. Historically these were simple, home made wines made with very minimal intervention. They may have just been made for personal consumption or sold as simple "country" wines.

The wines are light and fresh, with low alcohol. While historically a bit on the rustic side, they have become more popular among the younger winemakers moving into areas such as Itata. They have come to represent a unique and traditional expression of Chilean winemaking traditions.

Many of the reds are great as chilled red options and pair well with food, everything from grilled meats to Thai and Vietnamese. 


The Itata wine region is located in the southern part of Chile, with a Mediterranean climate and unique terroir. The region is heavily influenced by the Pacific Ocean, which brings cool breezes and fog to the area, creating ideal growing conditions for certain grape varieties. 

The soils in Itata are also distinctive, with granite and volcanic soils providing a mineral character to the wines. The region is hillier than most regions in Chile. 


The Itata wine region has a history dating back to the 16th century when the Spanish first brought grape vines to Chile, making it one of the oldest wine regions in the Americas. 

Throughout most of the 20th Century the wine region was largely forgotten, with the government encouraging locals to pull out vines and plant pine forests instead. This continues to result in the loss of vineyards dating back centuries. 

In recent years the region has seen a slow revival, with a younger generation of winemakers starting to explore the potential of the old vines, traditions and unique terroir. 


The most widely planted varieties are Carignan and País

Carignan was introduced to Chile in the 1940s and quickly became popular due to its high yields and resistance to disease. However, like in many wine regions around the world, old Carignan vines can produce wines of great complexity and character.

País, on the other hand, is a traditional Chilean grape variety that has been grown in the Itata region for centuries. It is typically used to produce Pipeno wines, but some winemakers are also using it to produce more classic wine expressions.

Other grape varieties found in Itata include Moscatel, Torontel, Cinsault, and Malbec, among others. However, Carignan and País are the most emblematic grape varieties of the region and are largely responsible for the resurgence of Itata as an important wine region in Chile.