Viña El Principal

Santiago, Chile

Viña El Principal, founded in 1993, is a remarkable winery that represents the perfect blend of Chilean terroir and French winemaking expertise. Jean Paul Valette, a renowned French enologist and former owner of the prestigious Château Pavie in Saint-Émilion, aimed to produce exceptional wines that embody the essence of the Chilean terroir while incorporating the Valette family’s tradition and experience in crafting fine wines.

Located in the Maipo Valley, specifically in the commune of Pirque, at the foothills of the Andes Mountains, El Principal benefits from a unique climate, land, and altitude that contribute to the production of wines with distinct character, a strong sense of origin, and extraordinary quality. The winery selected 54 hectares of the property to cultivate Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère, two emblematic grape varieties in Chile. After six years, the inaugural harvest of “El Principal” in 1999 marked a significant milestone, as the wine quickly gained international recognition as one of Chile’s top ultra-premium offerings, solidifying Chile’s position as a producer of fine wines.

 


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In late 2018, the Said Handal family acquired the entire operation of El Principal, bringing with them a vision for expansion and further development of the winery. Their goal was to build upon the excellent quality of the wines.

El Principal boasts 90 hectares of vineyards that have been strategically planted over the years. The initial planting phase, spanning from 1993 to 2000, focused on Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère varieties in alluvial soils. Subsequently, in 2006, additional grape varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Syrah were planted on the hillsides, adding diversity to the vineyard. The varying sun exposure in different sections of the vineyard contributes to the grapes’ development, resulting in wines with a range of flavors and aromas, from fresh and fruity to ripe and complex.

 

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The vineyards at El Principal benefit from a combination of alluvial and colluvial soils, with the older vineyards primarily on alluvial soils and the newer ones on colluvial soils. The vineyard’s diverse topography, with its different orientations and elevations, provides the winemaking team with a wealth of options to create the perfect blend for each wine.

In addition to its winemaking endeavors, El Principal prioritizes environmental conservation and sustainability. The vineyard’s thoughtful design, taking into account the natural streams and existing hundred-year-old trees, creates biological corridors throughout the property. These corridors support a rich biodiversity of native plants, animals, and insects that contribute to the ecological balance of the vineyard, naturally reducing pests and diseases.

 

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As you explore the vineyard, you’ll encounter typical trees of the central region’s sclerophyllous forest, such as quillay, espino, maitén, peumo, and boldo. The vineyard is also home to various bird species, including queltehues, harriers, partridges, turtledoves, and seasonally, bandurrias, herons, and tricahues parrots. Foxes, quiques, and hares can also be spotted, adding to the diversity and vibrancy of the ecosystem surrounding El Principal.

Viña El Principal stands as a testament to the harmonious union of Chilean terroir and French winemaking expertise. With its dedication to producing exceptional wines and commitment to environmental sustainability, El Principal continues to make its mark in the world of fine wines, offering a unique expression of the Maipo Valley’s viticultural heritage.

 

El Principal's Wines

  • Vina El Principal 'Memorias'

    Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Vina El Principal 'Calicanto'

    Cabernet Sauvignon - Carmenere

  • Vina El Principal 'El Principal'

    cabernet Sauvignon - Carmenere

  • Vina El Principal 'Andetelmo'

    Bordeaux Red Blend

  • Vina El Principal 'Kine' Verdejo

    Verdejo

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