Chile aims to become largest New World wine producer by 2020

The new plan would place Chile ahead of major producers the United States, Argentina and Australia within the coming decade and bring overseas sales to US$3 billion.

Viña Cono Sur, Chile.
Viña Cono Sur, Chile.

In the next decade, Chile hopes to become the New World’s largest wine producer. Already the seventh largest producer in the world and the fifth largest exporter (after Italy, France, Spain and Australia), Chile’s wine industry plans to maintain an annual growth rate of 9.2 percent over the next decade.

Promotional group Wines of Chile discussed its Strategic Plan for 2020 at a Dec. 15 event held at the offices of Fundación Imagen País in Santiago. Wines of Chile President René Merino and General Manager Juan Somavía introduced the plan, which will include both an increase in production and exports to key markets like Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany while also expanding new markets overseas, with an end goal of doubling sales to US$3 billion (CP$1.4 trillion).

A key factor in the expansion campaign, helmed by promotional organization Wines of Chile, will be the development of sustainable and biodynamic growing techniques among Chilean wine makers.

With its privileged and varied climate, and freedom from destructive pests and diseases like Phylloxera, Chile is in a good position to help lead the global push toward sustainable methods in the wine industry. The end goal, as stated in Wines of Chile’s Strategic Plan 2020, is to develop the industry to be “environmentally viable, economically viable and viable in terms of social responsibility for the community.”

A new Sustainability Program is now being developed to promote the increase in sustainable practices, with the support of Wines of Chile and wine technology consortium Vinnova and Tecnovid.

The primary directive of the Program will be the development of a systematic Sustainability Code by Chilean universities, most notably Universidad de Talca.

Work began in 2008 to elaborate a specific and transparent set of guidelines for evaluating the sustainability of different vineyards throughout Chile. Three factors will be considered in the evaluation process, namely growing processes directly related to the vines (Category Green), energy, water and waste efficiency (Category Red), and relationship with the local community (Category Orange).

Wines that meet the standard set out by the Code will be marked by Wines of Chile when exported. Additionally, the studies conducted by the universities will be published in the form of a guide to Chilean wineries, providing easy access to full research results behind each marked bottle.

By establishing a consistent, well-rounded and transparent system for evaluating sustainability, Wines of Chile hopes to create a marker that bears weight and specific meaning in overseas markets, where so often categorizations like ‘organic’ and ‘biodynamic’ carry little specific meaning.

In so doing, Wines of Chile intends not only to increase sales of and respect for Chilean wines overseas, but also to contribute to Chile’s image abroad as a global hub for innovation and sustainability.