Award-winning photographer offers fresh take on Chilean wine

World-renowned photographer Matt Wilson knocks the dust off wine photography, capturing Chilean vineyards through a different lens.


You won’t find images of stoic barrel rooms or commonplace landscapes depicting your average rows of vines among the portfolio of award-winning photographer Matt Wilson. Instead, the British-born artist fills his frames with the less expected: winemakers breaking bottles over their heads; the hands of a long-time harvester, wrinkled with years of experience; or a fistfull of sauvignon Blanc.

“I try never to do that holding a glass, nose in the glass. I want the ‘x factor’ or the ‘wow’ factor,” Wilson told This is Chile. “My biggest fear is to take a boring photo.”

It is hard to find any such images in the photographer’s vast collection, which is full of action shots, bursting with color and life. As a former skateboard and Rock & Roll photographer, Wilson puts the life and soul of Chilean wine on display through his photos.

“My background was fashion, music and skateboarding, so I tend to use a lot of vivid colors and a lot of wide angle shots,” Wilson explains. “I’ve kind of brought different disciplines into the wine industry.”

“I’ve got my enemies but for me its someone to remember the photo, they might like it they might not like it, but as long as they are not bored by it,” Wilson adds.

One of the more unorthodox photos that turned heads is of winemaker Grant Phelps breaking a bottle of red wine over his head published by La CAV, a Chilean food and wine magazine. Wilson told the magazine he had ideas, and was going to go for the shoot his way, and if they didn’t like them, they didn’t have to pay him. The image, created with the help of sugar stunt bottles but real wine, generated more letters and phone calls for the magazine than it had received for anything else published for years. La CAV paid for the photos.

His portfolio is not limited to wine, however. He has also travelled extensively, and says he continues to find new favorite places across Chile.

I love travelling in Chile,” Wilson says. “It is such a diverse country, I keep finding new places and I go to them and that becomes my favorite place for six months, like Elqui — I was really into Elqui and then it was the Atacama, then it was Rapa Nui or Easter Island, and right now it is Patagonia.”

Wilson continues to make waves and receive accolades for his work in Chile, recently receiving a nomination for the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards for The Artistry of Wine Award 2013, the biggest award for wine photography. He is also a part of a new show called Grand Crüe, that aims to bring life back to wine and food television.

“We are trying to stop the boring side of wine,” Wilson explains. “We are trying to say, let’s not forget wine is mainly for enjoyment and being with family and friends.”

The show is set to film in Chile during the next harvest during February and March. You can also find Wilson’s work in numerous wine and travel publications, including Vanity Fair, Wine Enthusiast, and Decanter, as well as in top Chilean wineries. Additionally he has published his images of Chilean wine in two books, ‘Chile Uncorked’ (2007) and ‘Chile: Country of Wine and Mountains’ (2009).