A dream come true. So Aurelio Montes Baseden, Chairman of Viña Montes, defines his landing at Mechuque island, 1,200 kms from Santiago, northeast of Chiloe.
The agricultural engineer, specialized in enology, has been recognized in the whole world by his unstoppable innovative DNA since the moment he began with the great dream of taking the Chilean wine to a world-class position more than three decades ago. As a new craze, as he defines it, in 2017 he decided to expand to the Chilean Insular Patagonia, Greater Island of Chiloe. Specifically, he chose Mechuque Island, the most western island from a group of six islands located to the east of the Greater Island of Chiloe.
This is his most extreme project and the idea arouse from a dream he always desired to fulfill. Fond of navigating, he explored the channels and islands of Chiloe for years. “Every time I navigated, I wondered what would happen if I planted a vineyard in Chiloe”, he remembers. Due to his studies on the conditions of the temperature and soil, he knew that the zone was rainy and cold, but that was not an obstacle: “Dreams are to be turned into reality and not sitting on them. Therefore, I set about to make my crazy dream of planting a vineyard in Chiloe come true”.
When exploring the place, they created a special and magical bond with the community of the island and worked collaboratively with the inhabitants of Mechuque. “The island is within waters which are similar to a lagoon catching the warm ocean currents. So that, despite its southern latitude, this island is warmer than the neighboring regions of Chiloe”, explained Aurelio Montes in his first years in the zone.
Montes added that the work in the zone has been a research work more than a business, and six years after taking the decision of expanding, they have seven varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Riesling.
En 2021, they made their first harvest: “It was raining cats and dogs, and we harvested in water suits to protect ourselves; with our feet in the water, because the grapevines were literally into the sea. There is not another project as extreme as this one in Chile. I caught a cold, but due to the affection for the project, a special affection, it was worth”, said Aurelio this year after tasting the results of the harvest from those 7 grape varieties.
Currently, he mentions, “the spirit of Viña Montes has been always innovation. We have been very brave explorers in the search of new places, and this is a very brave exploration. It is part of our research and innovation DNA”, says the oenologist. But there is more because he anticipates that a sparkling wine is also within his plans thanks to the weather conditions of the island.
“We have created a revolution.”
His adventure has had positive results and in Viña Montes, they are still focused on enhancing the staying in the island of Chiloe.
The Chairman of Viña Montes says that they are happy and excited with the results. Although he admits it has been hard, the arrival in the zone has been a complete challenge and, “in that sense, we are very satisfied”.
On the other hand, he mentions, “we have created a revolution”. “Many wine experts and critics have called us to ask about our project and to know about us. We can say they have been amazed by this very brave initiative”, says Aurelio Montes.
For the time being, its production in Chiloe is the most extreme project of the vineyard, and by now, they will continue focusing on this initiative: “we don’t want to waste time and lose the focus because we are very focused on the vineyard in Chiloe in addition to our whole operation”, he concluded.
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.