About Wines of Chile

Wines of Chile (WOC) –Vinos de Chile in Spanish- is a non-profit, private organization of Chilean wine producers dedicated to promoting the quality and image of Chilean wines. It is the oldest such organization in the New World, formed in 1949 through the merger of two groups. These days WOC thinks globally. With offices in the United States, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Chile, and working closely with ProChile, the country’s government trade commission, WOC develops and offers promotional and educational programs for its members. Activities include lobbying, research and development, worker assistance, and serving as a network hub for associates.

A powerful group, WOC’s close to 100 members represent over 75% percent of Chile’s bottled wine exports. Once dominated by a handful of large wine companies, today’s membership has expanded substantially to embrace mid-size and small concerns.

Overview

Every second, two bottles of Chilean wine are uncorked somewhere in the world! “Mention Chile and people immediately associate it with wine,” says Julio Alonso, Executive Director, Wines of Chile USA. “Copper and mining exports may rank higher, measured in dollars, but it’s our quality wines that rank top-of-mind for consumers.” Alonso calls wine a “door-opener” for his country.

Chile is a major player in the world wine business. It is the second most important country of origin for wine imports in China, and sixth in the U.S. “What has changed in recent years is the quality and price point of the Chilean wines.” Even in outlets with broad appeal reach, such as supermarkets, many Chilean wines on the shelves are increasingly to be found in the $10 to $20 range, up from the $8 to $10 price point of a few years ago.

Initiatives

Participation in WOC programs is voluntary, with many initiatives, such as WOC’s Sustainability Certification, open to members and non-members alike. Though WOC would like all participants to become members, today’s WOC takes the long view: Its aim is to support Chilean wines in general, rather than individual producers and brands.

Focus on the Upper Tier: WOC has created a multi-year marketing campaign that concentrates on highlighting wines that retail for $20 and up. “These wines are the engine pulling the premium Chilean train,” notes Alonso.

Defining Terroir: In addition to helping define and create new appellations, WOC was the driving force behind a forward-thinking, consumer-friendly labeling initiative. Capping a decades-long effort and enacted in 2012, this legislation enables producers to add Costa (“coast”), Andes (i.e. from the Andean highlands) or Entre Cordilleras (literally, “between ranges,” from the plains between Chile’s Coastal Range and the Andes) on labels. Such labeling is based on data gathered over many years by the Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG). What makes this effort unusual is that sensibly, considering climate change, Costa, Andes, and Entre Cordilleras are not rigid DOs within a larger area; but flexible designations, based on ever-changing data.

Climate Action: WOC was the first wine association in the world to put in place a United Nations-certified plan to help wineries reduce their carbon footprint. Under the Corporate Climate Action, wineries commit to reducing their carbon footprint and emission of greenhouses gases. Goals are specific, verifiable, and must be accomplished within a specific timeframe.

Certified Sustainable Wine of Chile: Just 10-years-old, the code has been widely embraced by Chile’s wine industry. As of December 2020, 70 wineries have received the “Certified Sustainable Wine of Chile” seal. These producers represent an impressive 80% of Chile’s bottled wine exports. The code covers activities in the vineyard, winery/bottling plant and in the social sector. Certification is open to all Chilean vineyards, regardless of whether or not they are a WOC member.

Welfare of Workers: A key mandate for WOC is to promote the welfare and development of workers through training, labor certification and scholarships. The Wines of Chile Responsibility Code, which includes community and worker wellbeing among its goals, has become a model for other such initiatives around the world.

R&D: WOC is involved in a broad array of initiatives, such as the Pesticide Agenda, a clearing house for information on the subject, and Meteovid. Meteovid is a network of 47 weather stations throughout Chile, delivering weather information online and in real time to vineyard managers.

Eno-tourism: Chile is the only country in the world with a sustainability code covering wine tourism. The code covers such facets as sustainable lodging. It’s an initiative that has proven most effective: Every year over one million people (Chileans and tourists from overseas) visit wineries, cementing brand loyalty and increasing sales.

And last but not least, there’s National Wine Day (Día del Vino), celebrated in Chile every September 4. Conceived by WOC to commemorate the day in 1545 when the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, founder of Chile’s capital, Santiago, penned a letter to Charles V of Spain praising Chile’s suitability for viticulture and asking for more vines to be sent, the event has been embraced by Chileans. Up and down the country there are wine festivals, dance parties and open cellars to visit. In 2015 the Chilean government made it an official national celebration.

Media Contacts:

Kate Corcoran / kate@cpalate.com / 347-239-1976

Jane Kettlewell / jane@cpalate.com / 718-704-4041

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