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The Central Valley Travel Guide

Getting Oriented

Geographically speaking, the Central Valley isn't really a valley at all, but rather an "Intermediate Depression" between two mountain ranges, the younger, higher Andes to the east and the much older and lower Coastal Range to the west. The two intermingle in northern Chile and separate just north of Santiago, leaving a fertile flatland between them that runs south to the Bío Bío, where the Coastal Mountains gradually descend into the Pacific Ocean.

Chile's wine appellation (called the Denominación de Orígen, or DO) system follows municipal subdivisions, and therefore the large Central Valley DO is divided into the four subregions of the Maipo Valley (Santiago sits in its center), the Rapel Valley (usually divided into Cachapoal and Colchagua), the Curicó Valley (around the city of Curicó), and the Maule Valley (which runs south from Talca).

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