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The Chilean Wine History Essay

1996 words - 8 pages

Maybe Chile is not one of the most popular countries in the world; perhaps some people have never even heard the name of this country before. However, if we talk about Chile within the wine-making industry, this country is definitely one of the most renowned and respected countries worldwide nowadays. Moreover, Chile is said to be a viticultural paradise, mainly due to its geographical isolation and great diversity of landscapes and climates. Chile stretches over 4.300km from north to south, but has only 350km in its widest point from east to west. With the Andean mountain range at the East and a long coast to the Pacific at the West; the driest desert in the world at the North, and ...view middle of the document...

Chilean wine production increased so rapidly that by 1620 Chile was a serious competition to Spain’s wine exports, and the king Phillip II declared a prohibition for planting more vineyards in this country. Notwithstanding, settlers in Chile ignored the prohibition and continued planting grapevines, and after Chilean Independence in 1810 the wine industry in Chile continue blossoming. As a consequence, by 1831 there were more than nineteen million grapevines planted in Chile. In 1830, thanks to the idea of Frenchman Claude Gay, the first state agricultural station was created, it was called Quinta Normal Agriculture, and plenty of vines were imported from Europe for wine production and consumption. Despite its political link to Spain, Chilean wine history has been mainly influenced by French, especially Bordeaux winemaking. Before the phylloxera epidemic, some wealthy landowners, such as Don Silvestre Ochagavia Echazarreta, began importing French varietals to Chile, such as, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon blanc, Malbec, Cabernet franc, Semillion, and Carmenere, hiring a French oenologist to oversee his vineyard in Talagante, and producing wine in the Bordeaux style. Furthermore, after the phylloxera outbreak in European vineyards, many French vintners came to South America along with their techniques and experience. By 1850, the Quinta Normal Agriculture had more than forty thousand vines and seventy different varieties of grapes imported from Italy and France. With the arrival of these French varietals Chile entered the modern era in the wine-making industry.

These noble varietals introduced to the country, mainly from Italy and France, had no problem in adapting to Chilean climate and soil, and they are believed to be the only pre-phylloxera clones which exist in the world. After Don Silvestre Ochagavia’s success, more illustrious landowners began to import the same varietals from France that he had introduced, and hired European experts to handle the vineyards and monitor the wine-making process adhering to strict European standards and practices. These aristocratic vintners acknowledged that focusing the attention on the vineyard management and the process of winemaking was crucial in producing wines of the highest quality possible. By 1880, Chilean wines were successfully marketed globally and exported to Europe. Consequently, the quality of Chilean wines gradually gained respect and recognition at different competitions and exhibitions around the world, culminating in 1889 when Chilean wines finally won the “Grand Prix” award at an important tasting in Paris. By the year 1938, Chile had surpassed an area of 100.000 hectares planted with vines, and the wine exports were higher than ever. Unfortunately, with the beginning of the World War II the Chilean wine-making industry started a decline which lasted more than forty years. During this period, the biggest enemies were the tax levied on the industry of wine and the social...

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