by Fred McMillin
for May 19, 1998

Chile, the Eternal Exporter


1580 A.D.—Spanish missionaries establish a solid wine industry, and send much wine back to their homeland.

1602—Chilean wines become too popular in Spain, reducing consumption of Spanish wine. Hence, King Phillip III forbids planting of new vineyards in Chile.

1680—Chilean wine popularity continues, so the Spanish crown finally forbids the importation of these "wines from the Indies."

1980—To increase exports, Chilean wineries begin modernizing their facilities (stainless steel vessels, temperature control, French and American oak, etc.). The country's largest producer, Concha y Toro, is one the very first to make these changes.

1996—After 20 years as senior winemaker for Concha y Toro, Pablo Morande leaves the firm and founds Vina Moranda. Its first export label is Pionero ("pioneer").

1997—Dean Robert Smiley (U.C. Davis) reports that the largest percentage increase in imports to the USA will continue to be from Chile.

The Rest of the Story

When Pablo joined Concha y Toro, white wines were not important exports. But he changed all of that and brought his expertise to his new winery. You can sample it for only $6 .

1997 Pionero Sauvignon Blanc
Valle Central, Chile
Composition—Some Semillon provides additional pleasing flavors to complement the Blanc herbs.
Availability—9,000 cases
Contact—Meg Scantlebury, (800) 678-8504
Importer -Racke USA, Sonoma, CA.


There's an ominous parallel between Spain 400 years ago and the USA today. Dean Smiley also reports that 85% of USA wine reps think consumers will switch to lower priced imported wines, and only 9% think it is a healthy development for our domestic wine industry. King Phillip, where are you when we need you? Credit—An important source was The Slow Food Guide To Wines of The World, Italy.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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