Future of Chilean wine: big players, niche products, new valleys

How larger companies gaining more traction in Chile’s wine industry will be offset by emerging wine regions and smaller wineries creating unique products.

Europe’s leading drinks trade publication, The Drinks Business, recently looked into their crystal ball and saw the future of Chilean wine industry: and it involved pioneering wine regions, niche, storied and boutique wines and a stepping up of the big players in the market.
“The big are becoming bigger and the small are becoming niche,” Luis Felipe Edwards, managing director of his family’s Colchagua based business, Viña Luis Felipe Edwards, told the magazine.
So while Edwards sees the industry becoming increasingly dominated by large companies, he also thinks that this trend will be offset by family run and smaller vineyards “making exotic” varieties and, in general terms, making “their portfolio more interesting.”
For Edwards’ company, the niche element is to be found in unusual grape varieties and blends; “Tempranillo is going to be fantastic as a component,” he said, adding that Mourvedre, Grenache and Malbec all had exciting potential.
But that drive toward innovation is also shared by many of the big players themselves: take Grupos Vinos del Pacifico, and its newly created subsidiary, Bodega Volcanes de Chile.
The goal of this new company is to create completely unique wines by utilising a resource that is found in few other wine producing regions outside of Chile: volcanoes, and the strong and unique character of these soils.
“In Chile almost any soil has volcanic character, but it’s about finding soils where that character comes through,” said Ernesto Müller, managing director of Bodega Volcanes de Chile.
Also Chile’s larger producers are continuing the drive into the country’s most extreme regions, with new commercial plantings of Pinot Noir pushing the southern frontier of Chile’s wine country to Chile Chico, which at 46º latitude, is 373 miles (600 km) further south than in Argentina.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the country, Viña Ventisquero has plans to release wines grown in the Atacama desert from 2013.
To see The Drinks Business article, click here, for ThisisChile interviews with pioneering winemakers in Chile, click here.