With sustainability and the relationship with nature as their main focus since its inception, Viña Maquis has made a name for themselves in the national wine industry. Although the land where their land is located has been farmed for centuries, and used for winegrowing for more than 300 years, it was not until 2003 when their first wine was born. It rose from a terroir that they themselves define as “very special,” located in the heart of Colchagua and between two rivers, which makes it unique in terms of soil and climate. It is particularly well suited to winegrowing and is notable for its results with varieties such as Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Maquis, currently led by winemaker and family member Ricardo Rivadeneira as Executive Director, has been committed since their inception to biodiversity and protecting the environment, with very sustainable and near-organic management (very few products are applied), 100% hand harvesting and wines produced with the grapes they grow.
“The winery has always been very respectful of what nature provides, so from very early on, we worked on biological corridors, bodies of water that bring water to the interior of the estate, where there is plentiful biodiversity–both flora and fauna–as part of our land,” says Laura Leiva, Viña Maquis’ Marketing Manager.
The main project that shows their commitment to sustainability is undoubtedly the winery’s use of geothermal energy, which they are the first and only winery in Chile to implement. The initial goal was to lower the carbon footprint, as using this energy makes the use of gas and electricity more efficient for wine production.
Geothermal heat pumps can harness the energy from a deep well, and when only hot water is needed, the machine draws energy from the well water and incorporates it into the system, whereas when only cooling is needed, the pump draws energy from the system and delivers it to the well water. Additionally, when both are needed, the heat pump can transfer heat energy from one tank to another without the use of well water. In simple terms, it is as if the heat energy extracted from inside a refrigerator could be harnessed and delivered to an iron: cooling and heating with a single machine.
“The project was born in 2012 and by the following year the results were impressive: electricity consumption decreased by 30% and gas consumption by 90%, which we have maintained over time, and which is very efficient. It is a distinguishing factor which, together with other initiatives, makes us much more sustainable and efficient in terms of the resources used,” adds Leiva.
In addition, Maquis was one of the first vineyards to be awarded the Código de Sustentabilidad (Sustainability Code) certification from Wines of Chile, which they opted for as part of their continual search for collaborative and community instances surrounding sustainability. They define this as their hallmark and the spirit of the winery, which was further intensified after the pandemic.
Among the other sustainable initiatives mentioned are the biological corridors, i.e., bodies of water that carry water resources to the interior of the farm; the use of sheep in winter to fertilize the soil; and a project using Araucanian hens as pest control. Additionally, Maquis’ advantageous location between two rivers and breezy conditions helps to reduce problems caused by mold from humid conditions that come with poor ventilation.
We could go on for hours about wine, and its benefits are many. Among them, moderate wine consumption reduces the risk of mortality from heart disease by half, improves blood flow and enhances the flavours of food. In addition, wine is social, allowing for different delicious libations in the company of friends. But wine is not without its pitfalls, as the saying goes, there can be too much of a good thing.
Drinking alcohol, even in small quantities, alters cognitive abilities, decreases our attentiveness and leads to slower response times. It is worth noting that alcohol consumption is the leading cause of traffic accidents.
You can be a part of the solution, keeping the above in mind to not let wine become a negative experience.