The Cachapoal Valley, which is also called the “Rancagua Watershed,” is named after the river that flows from Lake Rapel and irrigates the land here. Situated approximately 90 km south of Santiago, the valley produces many fine wines thanks to the low-lying Coastal Mountains, which contribute to its unique growing conditions.
Over the years, Lake Rapel has become one of the region’s top tourist destinations. It was formed in 1968 when a dam was built at where the Tinguiririca and Cachapoal Rivers come together. The area offers beautiful natural scenery and opportunities to practice a variety of water sports. Though the lake can be visited year around, it is best to come during summer months, when you can enjoy its beaches and waters.
One of the area’s highlights is Doñihue, a small village 20 km southeast of Rancagua that is famous for its chamantos, poncho-like garments that are hand woven using a fine blend of silk and wool. These are part of the formal attire of Chilean huasos, and come in many bright colors and designs. Thirsty? You’re in the right place. This town is also famous for its pipeño, a lightly fermented white wine with a longstanding tradition in rural Chile.
The Cachapoal Valley Wine Route offers guided tours of the area’s finest wineries, where you can sample excellent wines including Chile’s flagship varietal, Carmenére. Some tours include trail rides, outdoor barbecues and even mountain biking.