Chile: Winemaking

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Chile has undergone possibly the most dramatic technological revolution in the wine world. Wineries were for decades underfunded as the domestic market could be satisfied with often oxidized white wines and faded reds made with the most traditional of equipment. All wines were made from grapes trucked, often in very high temperatures with scant regard for oxidation, to wineries equipped with little in the way of temperature control, and made exclusively in vats made either of cement or the coarse local raulí, or evergreen beech, wood, usually coopered many decades previously. In the late 1980s, however, the wine industry made a commitment to the long-term future of Chile as a wine exporter and began to invest in the equipment necessary for that goal. Outside investors assisted the influx of both equipment and expertise, and since then the wineries of Chile were invaded, at a pace usually determined by the enterprise’s size and cash flow, by pneumatic presses, oak barrels, stainless steel, and modern filters. Often one of the most necessary improvements was one of the technically least complicated: the provision of cool storage facilities. Today Chile’s oenologists are some of the world’s finest.