Production expanded rapidly and the country was soon exporting to Peru, challenging imported wines from Spain. The Echeñique family, of Basque origin, planted vineyards in the Peralillo area of the Colchagua province around 1750 and in the 19th century; the same family was part of the rapid expansion that took place in Chilean wines, at the initiative of a handful of pioneers who were inspired by the French model. The first French grapes were planted in the Cañeten Valley of Colchagua in 1850, but when phylloxera ravaged Europe’s vineyards, Chile’s production increased dramatically. The vineyard area went from 9,000 hectares in 1870 to 40,000 hectares in 1900. The first exports of wines to Europe took place in 1877. In 1947, production in the Cañeten Valley of the Peralillo region was reorganised and rationalised. Plots of land were cleared and prepared for planting, water supply and storage systems were put in place and cellars equipped with cement tanks were built. The reborn “Cañetenes” wines gradually built up a good reputation. However, the land reform measures that came into force in 1970 put a stop any further expansion.
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