Wednesday, January 11th
This morning we got up and went to go visit the winery, Concha Y Toro. It was named after the founder and was established in 1883. It is the biggest winery in the country and the largest exporter of wine. Carmenere is the signature wine in Chile and the grape isn’t grown anywhere else in the world. The grape originally came from France and Chile is the largest producer of pure Carmenere in the world. Eighty percent of the harvesting is done by hand and the rest is done by machines. They use little water and angle the leaves correctly in order to get maximum sunshine. They are looking for smaller, firmer grapes with lots of sugar.
I thought it was fascinating that the vines live for around 40-50 years. Who knew? I also found out that the Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of the red wines and that they look for the best soil, climate and vine available. We got a tour of the grounds and then she took us down to the Devil’s cellar. They made up a myth about the devil being down there because people kept breaking in and drinking the wine. The people were very superstitious at the time so it stopped the stealing. We got to see all of the French and American oak barrels and I learned that they keep wine in the American oak barrels around 10 months while French oak barrels are between 14-18 months.
I also learned that you can turn a red grape into a white wine depending on the amount of pressure you put on it when you are crushing the grapes. The tour was just really, really interesting and very informative for someone who hasn’t drank a lot of wine.
Concha Y Toro is the second largest vineyard in the world. The Andes Mountain and the Pacific Ocean provide a natural barrier and help lead the company to excellence. Then it was time for the actual wine tasting. Our first wine was a Marques de Casa Concha Chardoney. You could taste the peaches, pineapples, and apricots and it was very fruity and sweet. It would go well with something creamy. The second wine was a pinot anoir and it tasted like chocolates and cappuccinos. There wasn’t a real wine smell at first and it would go great with lunch or cocktails.
The third wine was a Merlot and you could taste cherries when you drank it. It was very smooth. The fourth wine was a Cabernet Souvergnoir and it was definitely drier than the others. The last wine we tried was the Camerne, which is unique to Chile and it was my personal favorite.
After our wine tasting, we had another presentation about Concha Y Toro. They are a world-class winery player and have been around for over 128 years. In 1994, they were the first winery to be listed on the NYSE. They recently formed a partnership with Manchester United, the famous soccer team. They also recently acquired Fetzer vineyards in California. They have been growing at an average rate of 18% and have had a volume growth of 10%. Seventy percent of their wine is exported while only 16% is kept here domestically. In 2010, they had $117 million in sales and have an export market of $511 million. They export to over 135 countries and have Argentine subsidiaries as well.
The winery’s growth is due to brand building, exclusive focus on wine, quality consistency, investments, innovation, strong distribution networks and a portfolio of wineries. They have worked hard to have a very successful business model.
Europe is their #1 client with England being their highest single country. The winery has been #1 in most markets its exported to and they have any different sub brands available. They have worked very hard on their marketing strategies and use trucks, billboards, TVs and subways. They have a similar fire theme going on with their Casillero del Diablo wine. They have been fortunate to receive many different awards, including the highest score for a Chilean wine. From 2005-2010 they reinvested $348 million into projects.
They have especially looked at making the winery environmentally friendly. They are looking at climate change to see their carbon and water footprint. They were the first winery to estimate their water footprint and have formed a responsible water management team. They bought Feltzer because they believed that they were a very sustainable brand.
Concha Y Toro is in second place among the most powerful wine brands in the world. They are second in volume worldwide as well. They have started to have a presence in Asian markets, especially with supporting Manchester United because they have over 300 million fans worldwide. They want to continue to focus on having a positive experience when you come to visit. One way they are going to be doing this is by transforming the Devil’s Cellar into a state of the art theater and experience tour.
I really enjoyed the wine visit today. Like other wineries, they focused on quality and on the growth of the vine itself. This vineyard, however, is only focused on wine. Many other vineyards produce wines as a second business but for Concha Y Toro, it is their one and only focus. They went into detail about their marketing strategy an how the myths and traditions of the winery are part of it. Now I know what brand to buy when I get back to the states!
Finally, a dog I can play with.
Alison and I went to the hotel pool and laid out and took a nap during the afternoon. The wine tasting wore us out! (although I was really appreciative for the cheese board). We watched a movie, caught a quick dinner at a small Bohemian restaurant in a neighborhood a few blocks away. It was once again delicious. Heather had some difficulties ordering her special cheese pizza so we had to switch waiters to someone who spoke English. It was pretty entertaining. Great day!