History

Colchagua means “valley of small lakes” in the local indigenous language. The land was originally home to Mapuche warrior tribes and later marked the southern boundary of the Inca Empire. The pre-Hispanic irrigation works here were built by the Inca, who were the first to practice agriculture in the Colchagua Valley.

Before the Spanish conquest, the indigenous Chiquillanes people inhabited the Colchagua Valley. Spanish chroniclers described them as the least numerous and most warlike of the Mapuche tribes that inhabited Chile at the time. The Chiquillanes covered themselves in guanaco skins or went unclothed. They were conquered by the Inca as they expanded their empire to its southernmost limit—the Colchagua Valley. It was the Inca who developed the first irrigation systems and practiced agriculture in these lands.

The first evidence of winegrowing and winemaking in the Colchagua Valley comes from the time of the Spanish Conquest of America (1542). Among their aims, the conquerors sought to convert the indigenous peoples they encountered to Catholicism, and they therefore came accompanied by Jesuit missionaries. In the coastal zone of the Colchagua Valley the Jesuits built their first monasteries and planted the first vineyards to make sacramental wine for celebrating mass.

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