According to the Associated Press, Chile’s largest winery Concha y Toro has stopped production for a week to assess damages to its wineries. I have not independently confirmed this but AP is extremely reliable. Apparently some production facilities south of Santiago were quite damaged by the earthquake. To read the article, click here.
I visited Concha y Toro last year on the penultimate day of my trip to Chile. It is about 45 minutes outside of Santiago on a very slow bus. The winery is enormous and extremely well organized with tours running every hour or so. The winery, officially called Vina Concha y Tour was started with cuttings brought from France by Don Melchor Concha y Toro in 1883. Concha y Toro was founded in 1883 on an estate in Pirque that his wife had inherited. Melchor immediately hired Frenchmen Monsieur de Labourchere to make his first wines. By 1918, the family had hired a second winemaker from France, George Guyot. The company has been public since 1921.
Concha y Toro owns numerous other wineries in Chile and widely exports throughout the world. In the 1990s, it established Cono Sur winery to produce and market new world wines, bought Trivento Bodegas y Viñedos winery in Argentina and formed a joint venture with Baron Philippe de Rothschild and created Almaviva. In the last decade, Concha y Toro’s developed two wineries called Viña Maipo and Viña Palo Alto.
I am posting pictures that I took at the winery in order to give a sense of the place and its beauty. Many people go to Santiago and don’t visit Concha y Toro because they think it is too big. I was thrilled that I didn’t make that mistake. The property was absolutely stunning and the wines were quite enjoyable. Walking on the property, I almost felt that I was visiting an Italian villa.
Until I got to the cellar, the Casillero del Diablo. Then I felt that I was in a completely different world. Don Melchor was not just an astute businessman and politician but also a student of human nature. Apparently he discovered that wines were being taken from one of cellars. He quickly spread the word that a devil lived in the cellar and lo and behold, thereafter, he suffered no further losses. People were terrified of the cellar.
The cellar was a bit creepy but I am highly susceptible to legends, superstitions and the like. The tour ended with a trip to the restaurant and a lovely Carmenere, a grape that is making Chile world famous. I don’t much feel like writing about the wines today, it seems kind of inappropriate but I do encourage you to drink Chilean wine this week and into the future to support the industry. I know I will keep raising a glass to Chile and will be happy to toast to its recovery.