Around 200 people attended the Second International Viticulture and Enology Seminar from the Southern Chile, “Viticulture, enology and marketing: keys to increase productivity, quality and competitiveness,” organized by the Viticulture and Enology Extension Center of Southern Chile, CEV del Sur, an institution which provides personalized extension services for small and medium sized winegrowers in the Chilean southern valleys of Tutuven, Itata, Biobio and Malleco.
National and international experts who participated in the seminar – held on 14 November in Chillan (330 miles south of Santiago) - discussed the current reality of wine and the working model which could be implemented in this area in southern Chile to market the product at a good price in national and international markets.
It was precisely the international vision delivered by Doctor Anita Oberholster, enology extension specialist at the University of California Cooperative Extension who spoke about “Kinetics of phenolic extraction in Wines” and the “Problems of oxidation and reduction in wines: how to prevent and mitigate them.” The extensionists of the UCCE, in addition to outreach, carry out research in three campuses of the UC: Berkeley, Riverside and Davis. In the case of Oberholster, she is dedicated to the chemistry of wine in the Viticulture and Enology Department at UC Davis.
In the area of operation of the CEV del Sur there are strains such as “Pais (nation)” which arrived in Chile in 1817 with the Spaniards in order to make wine for mass. At the end of the 19th century, the rustic strain Pais was displaced by the arrival of French strains and was only used for common wines in demijohns, but a few years ago it began its reappraisal.
Tradition and modern
Doctor Oberholster is one of those who believes that Pais can help Chile to position itself in the global market as a light wine. “I like tradition, it is a good thing and you can use it to your absolute advantage. It is something that is unique about your country and that you can use to get on the map, something very different. Take Pais, which is a very light starter wine and it is what the new generation likes. There is a huge market out there for light wines. So yes, I think that tradition mixed with the modern is the future and makes it interesting,” she said.
And “modern” refers mainly to updated information about viticulture and enology, not only techniques and technologies. Hence the importance of instances such as the international seminar and extensionism. “You should never stop learning. We know much more now about wine fermentation and grape growing than 50 years ago, how to protect your grapes from sunburn and against diseases. We know better now about wine processing, what is happening. Everything is just knowledge: this is what is happening now, these are the steps we can take to save your wine and fix it. You can still use all the traditional method, but just knowing how, can make a huge difference,” she added.
The day before the seminar, Doctor Oberholster held an Extension Clinic in Santa Berta de San Nicolas (near Chillan), one of the associate vineyards of CEV del Sur. “This zone lagged behind for quite some time…. and therefore, now that they are beginning to carry out technical visits and are training small producers, it has been possible to reinforce many vineyards which were lost and where not even the farmer was aware that they could be of value,” commented Pablo Herrera, Manager of the Santa Berta vineyard. The specialist in wine chemistry also visited Cortez, another vineyard associated with the Center.
“Through available technology, we are aiming for companies to improve both the quality of their wines as well as the competitiveness of their company. In this context, these were the issues we reviewed in the seminar: winegrowing, enological and commercial issues. The idea is to create a structure we should have, from handling the vine to marketing, in order to sell the bottle at a good price in the market, both national and international,” concluded Susan Aguilera Olate, Manager of CEV del Sur, a center headed by UC Davis Chile, together with the National Agricultural Research OInstitute, INIA Quilamapu and the Faculty of Agronomy at the University of Concepcion.
In addition, Oberholster offered the seminar “Making wine in an economically challenging environment” at the University of Talca for the winegrowers of the Maule Region -Chile´s principal wine producing region- and visited and held technical conversations with the VSPT Wine Group (in Isla Maipo) and Santa Rita, vineyards with which UC Davis Chile is working on projects on wine quality. Finally, she gave a talk in Wines of Chile, a non-profit association which represents a major part of Chile´s wine producers.