When I visited the Colchagua Valley, one of Chile’s picturesque wine-producing regions, I was expecting to find that the vineyards there were hurting from the economic slump.
And to a degree they were: the strength of the Chilean peso to the dollar had been affecting their revenues and tighter consumer spending has slowed their growth — and could slow it further still.
Furthermore, the domestic wine market in Chile is tiny, and for some vineyards, the export market represents some 95 percent of their business, making them subject to the roller-coaster ride that is today’s global economy.
But in researching this, it also seemed that Chilean vineyards could be well positioned to weather these economic times better than other wine producers. This would be thanks to a confluence of factors:
— First and foremost, in some cases they’re able to price 40 percent lower than their competitors.
— They’re starting to generate more buzz from tastemakers for the quality of their grapes.
— Napa Valley hasn’t been able to produce the quantity it needs and has been importing wine from Chile in bulk in greater volumes.
— There’s greater awareness of South American wines thanks to the rising popularity of Argentina’s Mendoza region.
— They’ve got the global cachet that Napa Valley doesn’t; and they’ve got the “next big thing” quotient that Old World wines from France and Italy lack.
Overall there are 13 wine-producing regions
throughout the Chile, but many, like Colchagua Valley, are congregated within an area an hour or two south of Chile’s capital city Santiago.
Montes Alpha and Montes Classic series are two of Montes' labels, and its higher-end Purple Angel bottle features Chile's distinctive Carmenere
Emiliana's wines include the thrifty Natura, Novas and Walnut Crest (which is a label the company is starting to pull back the reins on). G is its pricier biodynamically
produced "icon" wine.
Their vineyards are breathtaking places to visit for their scenery, and they haven’t yet reached any kind of critical mass in terms of the amount of visitors trampling through on wine tours.
Montes is the bigger producer of the two, but Emiliana is positioning itself if and when organically produced wines start grabbing the imagination — and wallets — of wine drinkers in the United States and beyond.