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The first vines in this South American country were planted in 1551 by the Spanish conqistador Don Francisco de Aguirre de Meneses (1507-1581) in the town of La Serena (Coquimbo), founded in 1543. Among them was the Criolla Chica (Listán Prieto), which originated in Spain and is referred to here as País or Negra Antigua (see under Criolla). A few years later, his son-in-law Juan Jufré de Loayza (1516-1578) introduced vines near Santiago in the Maule area. Cheap bulk wine was produced and shipped to Peru and Mexico. The English privateer Francis Drake (1540-1596) captured a ship in 1578 to bring 1,770 wineskins from Chile to Peru. Chile was increasingly becoming a competitor for European wines. Therefore, in 1620, the Spanish royal house forbade the planting of more vines to protect Spain's wine trade with America. In 1830, the government established the Quinta Normal agricultural experimental station. The French naturalist Claudio Gay (1800-1873) introduced European varieties. By 1850 there were already 70 different ones.

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