Flying from Buenos Aires to Santiago we passed the amazing Andes mountain ranges that even look impressive from the plane:
In Santiago we stayed in the same apartment as during our first visit. This was an easy decision since it is perfectly located in the city center and just a few minutes walk to our favorite “Completo” booth 😉
Since we both appreciate Chilean wines and have enjoyed as many of them as possible without being drunk all the time 🙂 we thought it a good idea to visit one of the Chilean vineyards near Santiago.
After some research on the vast vineyard tours which are offered we booked a tour to the organic vineyard Emiliana in the Casablanca Valley. The combination of the cool climate in the valley and the sea breezes from the Pacific coast create an environment of slow ripening and are responsible for producing world famous aromatic white wines with delicate flavors. Not for nothing the valley is called the “kingdom of white wines”.
In a vineyard tour we were given a short insight into the production of their organic wines. In the late 1990’s Emiliana was the first vineyard in Chile that started to produce organic and bio-dynamic wines. Their philosophy is to respect the environment by making use of sustainable agriculture without any artificial processes and synthetic products (exception: as all vineyards they add sulfites as a preservative) while still striving for highest wine quality.
Also they make use of the so called bio-dynamic calender to program agricultural activities and further improve the quality of their products. The bio-dynamics science was developed from ideas of the Austrian-Hungarian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). We will admit it sounds quite a bit weird at first, but their success seems to prove them right. In the following we will show you some examples of these organic processes.
At Emiliana alpacas, cows, horses, chickens, guinea fowl, geese and other birds live together and play an essential role in the vineyards. For example we could see a hen with her little chicklets wandering around in the vineyard: they and the other birds eat insects, larvae and worms that could affect the vines or grapes.
They keep alpacas as lawn mowers that eat the weeds and grass growing between the vines. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for the alpacas they are only allowed to work as long as no grapes are ripening in order to avoid the alpacas eating the grapes instead of the weeds.
The alpacas manure is processed in huge barrels with chalk, water and other ingredients and then used as natural fertilizer.
Another measure is to plant certain herbs and flowers between the vines. This helps protect the vines from insect pests and attracts pollinators and beneficial insects. Additionally the vineyard benefits from this inter-planting as it increases biodiversity. Interestingly Emilianas vintners freely admit that they did not come up with all these concepts themselves, but they are much more rediscovering the principles and techniques of symbiotic relationships between different plant species their grand-grandfathers already made use of.
Quite surprising for us was that around 90 % of their wines are exported out of Chile. For one thing “organic” is simply not yet very attractive in Chile and as a second all the additional effort comes with higher costs which many of the Chileans are not willing to pay. This leads to the funny situation that Emiliana’s wines sell especially well in Europe and even the US while only 10 % are sold in Chile…
Besides the organic agriculture another vital topic at Emiliana is the importance of a long-term relationships with the workers. Emiliana’s philosophy is that no venture can be successful without good people. That is why Emiliana has invested in university and technical scholarships for employees and their children. There are also organic gardens provided for the workers to grow their own vegetables and training for the workers to start their own micro-businesses, such as making honey and olive oil which they may sell for their own profit.
We were really impressed by the vision that the vineyard founders had several decades ago and how far they had been ahead of their time in creating organic wine. Their idea that a consumer should whenever possible be aware of the product he is consuming, not only for health reasons but also with respect to social and environmental impacts is exactly what so many people now believe in and are looking for.
After visiting the vineyard and getting flooded with all that interesting information it was finally time to try some of those miraculous wines 🙂
These were the four wines we got to taste and we especially enjoyed the first and the fourth wine from the left, the Sauvignon Blanc and the Coyam. Of course they also sell their wines at the vineyard and luckily we had a driver to take us back to Santiago 🙂
Back in Santiago we enjoyed this amazing view from the roof top of our apartment building and indulged in some of the newly acquired wines and delicacies from the nearby neighborhood:This entry was posted in South-America, WorldMap