Valley pioneers in biodynamic and organic growing methods in Chile's Rosario Valley
Matetic Vineyards came into existence in 1999 when the Matetic family decided to diversify its businesses and invest in a winery operation. The Matetic family is originally from the town of Rijeka (now in modern-day Croatia) and first came to Chile back in 1892. Jorge Matetic, the fourth generation of the family in Chile, had interests in sheep, cattle, farming, and tourist development, and after conducting detailed studies of El Rosario Valley in Chile’s San Antonio Valley, decided it had great potential for growing wine grapes. In 1999, the family planted vines on the slopes of this protected environment and not only did they become pioneers in Chilean cool-climate Syrah, but they decided to make their new winery a biodynamic entity, a fact that bears explanation.
One of a small handful of biodynamic wineries, Matetic Vineyards must follow rigid guidelines before its fruit can be certified biodynamic. Simply put, biodynamic farming (relative to grape growing) insures that the principles and practices of biodynamics are based on a spiritual/practical philosophy, called anthroposophy, which includes understanding the ecological, the energetic, and the spiritual in nature.
As a practical method of farming, biodynamics embodies the idea of ever-increasing ecological self-sufficiency just as with modern agro-ecology, but also includes ethical-spiritual considerations. This type of viticulture views the farm as a cohesive, interconnected living system. Involved are the cycles of the moon, exact temperature, and humidity control that makes biodynamic farming a good deal more expensive than regular farming.
When making his decision to go biodynamic, Jorge Matetic noted that a number of the greatest vineyards and wineries had already converted to biodynamic farming. The likes of famed Napa winery Grgich Hills has taken the step along side such notables as Burgundy’s Comtes Lafon, Leflaive and perhaps the most revered wine producer on the planet, Domaine de la Romanée Conti. In Alsace, there is Domaine Weinbach, Deiss and Zind-Humbrecht. In the Rhône, it is Chapoutier. In the Loire Valley, there is Coulée de la Serrant, whose owner, Nicolas Joly, could be considered the John the Baptist of the movement. Around the globe, there is tremendous credence to the biodynamic movement.
For Matetic Vineyards, all ninety acres of their vineyards are biodynamic. With a total production of fewer than 3,500 cases, Matetic Vineyards is tiny by world standards. Nevertheless, its wine have won major awards on the international wine scene and should continue to do so for many years to come.
“We chose this path because we love nature and the outdoors,” Matetic was recently quoted as explaining. “This system involves harnessing the forces of nature to act with positive energy. For example, if a bug is bad for crops, find another bug to eat it. When you treat the plants that are naturally good, this is evidenced in the vineyard, because when our neighbors are affected by frost, we are not. Moreover, this form of production can get better prices.”
Jorge Matetic has built a marvelous, modern wine facility that overlooks the slopes of El Rosario Valley, a sub valley of the larger San Antonio Valley, that lies approximately seventy miles west of the capital of Santiago, near the Pacific Ocean. The winery’s modernistic design and agricultural stances fits in well with its selective type of farming and winemaking.
The winemaker for Matetic Vineyards’ wines is Julio Bastias, an agronomy engineer from the Universidad de Talca who began his professional career at the Universidad in enological research. He has been an assistant winemaker at Vina Viu Manent, Vinedos Organicos Santa Emiliana and Vinedos del Maule. Julio also spent time in California’s Napa Valley working as an assistant to Ken Bernards and producing wine for Ancien Wines, Witford Cellars, and Donum Estate. Julio believes in a biodynamic farming practice, one that includes both organic farming elements as well as the philosophy that connects winemaking with nature and the cosmos.
If ever there was a completely thought out winery and vineyards, Matetic Vineyards is most certainly the operation that comes to mind. Helped most assuredly by the entire new wave Chilean wine movement, Matetic Vineyards will continue to gain in statue and prestige in the following years. It is our pleasure to introduce this marvelous winery to our Diamond Wine Club members. Enjoy!
Map of the area
Chile Wine Regions
Chile’s unique combination of geography and climate make it ideal for winegrowing. From the Atacama Desert to the north (the driest on Earth!), to the Andes Mountains in the east, to the Patagonian ice fields to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west, Chile is a veritable agricultural island where the geographic barriers help maintain healthy conditions and protect vines against pests and disease. With such diverse geography, the climate has terrific variation bringing warm, dry summers and cold, rainy winters that vines thrive on.
While the more established wine regions lie in the center of the country, growers continue to experiment with new landscapes, pushing further north and south. More than 600 miles separate the developing regions of Elqui Valley in the north and Malleco Valley in the south!
Julio Bastias - Winemaker
An agronomy engineer from the Universidad de Talca, Julio Bastias began his professional career at the Universidad He has been an assistant winemaker at Viña Viu Manent, Vinedos Organicos Santa Emiliana and Vinedos del Maule. Julio also spent time in Napa Valley working as an assistant to Ken Bernards and producing wine for Ancien Wines, Witford Cellars, and Donum Estate.
Julio believes in a biodynamic farming practice, one that includes both organic farming elements as well as the philosophy that connects winemaking with nature and the cosmos.
Rosario Valley, Chile
The biodynamic vineyards that comprise the Matetic Vineyards winery holdings are located in the Rosario Valley, a sub valley of the larger San Antonio Valley that lies approximately seventy miles west of the capital of Santiago.
Rosario Valley is a large, completely enclosed valley of approximately 22,000-plus acres, which lies perpendicular to the nearby Atlantic Ocean. This favorable location provides incredible Mediterranean-type climactic influence that results in temperature variations of more than 50 degrees and is ideal for the maturation of grapes. This natural maritime influence produces cold nights and allows for the vines to regenerate themselves.
The temperature rises during the early morning until midday when a soft sea breeze maintains a temperature of around 79 degrees, near perfect for growing superior grapes. Two distinct types of soils are found in the valley, a clay/granite layer on the hillsides, and another soil, granite and clay mix that is more fertile, but low in nutrients. Both soil types are excellent for producing low yield fruit.