The term Old World Wine refers to wine produced in Europe and other regions with a long, documented history of winemaking. French and Italian wine production, for example, can be traced to ancient dates as far back as the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries BC. As you can assume, New World Wine was born with the later exploration of far east and western worlds.
As with California, Chilean viticulture was established by the Spanish Conquistadors and missionaries. With vineyards thriving in Peru, it wasn’t long before Chile joined the production, witnessing widespread planting in the late 16th century. Unfortunately for South American regions, the restrictions set by Spain quickly began to strangle the rising wine industry. Not only did these restrictions require the people to purchase primarily from Spain, but the constraints also required Chile and Peru to cease exportation of their own wine.
The regulations from Spain nearly devastated the wine industry in Peru. Chile, however, stood her ground and continued domestic production. The Chileans also ignored Spanish orders by increasing exportations, even shipping to suffering Peru. This bold independence from Spain led to French influence, with winemakers adopting various French techniques and many vine imports, including Merlot, Cabernet franc, Malbec, Semillon, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Modern Era
Like many other wine producing nations, the modern era of Chilean wine began with the establishment of organization. Instituting production guidelines and quality standards helped usher Chile into a new age and place Chilean wine under the gaze of international eyes. As of the mid-1880’s, success was found in exporting to European markets.
Difficulties arose with World War II. Both political and economic turmoil heavily affected Chilean wineries. Even taxes invaded the success of Chilean wine, with policies put in place to decrease the consumption of alcohol and slowed the development of the entire nation’s wine production. It wasn’t until 1990 that recovery began and exports increased greatly. Today, Chile is the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, with wealthy investors providing major financial support.
In support and honor of Chilean wine, the Cellars Wine Club Blog will be focusing on Chile throughout the week. Enjoy our next post tomorrow!