One of Chile's most reputable up-and-coming wineries
The origin of the name of this International Series featured winery takes place near the end of the 18th Century in Santiago, Chile. Legend has it that a traveling salesman was peddling his wares, religious estampas (small, pocket size religious images) to passers-by in the city’s central plaza. Suddenly, one of his estampas, a Lady of Carmen Estampa, took off and started flying over his head. The figure stayed up more than a half hour and traveled from one side of the plaza to the other. It then crossed the Mapocho River and gracefully landed on the feet of a woman who was teaching catechism to her children. The event was witnessed by hundreds of people around the plaza and became locally regarded as a miracle by the faithful.
A catholic church was then built in 1794 in the same place where the estampa landed and was named the church of Our Lady of Carmen of the Flying Estampa. A Spanish immigrant named Don Manuel Gonzalez Dieguez then bought a wheat mill next to the new church and named it Molino Estampa after the recent miracle.
Today, the mill is still in operation and is run by the descendants of Don Manuel, now called the Gonzalez-Ortiz Family. With a look toward the future, the family has built a modern winery facility and given it the name Estampa to honor their great-grandfather’s early vision.
The Gonzalez-Ortiz Family believes there is a direct correlation between wine and bread. The Ortiz branch of the family was in the wine business around the Maipo Region and the development of the new winery in the Colchagua Valley provided a natural fit.
In 2001, the new winery was constructed and named Valle. It contained state of the art architecture and equipment and began producing wines under the "assemblage” technique of winemaking. Assemblage is the process of blending grave varietals to produce maximum complexity and quality. In reality, the French (particularly in Bordeaux) have used this technique for centuries.
As a brand, Viña Estampa has made its mark in international competitions and has been given exceptionally high ratings by international wine periodicals. Viña Estampa wines are now conceded to be among the finest produced in Chile.
While Viña Estampa is definitely a member of the new wave wineries that have propelled Chile into the big leagues of international winemaking, it differs in size and scope from many of its smaller, more boutique style wineries. With significant land holdings and a huge winery capacity, Estampa is poised to become one of Chile's most significant wineries. The fact that it is able to produce such outstanding wines of highest quality is noteworthy in itself.
And, even though Viña Estampa is a family run operation, it has managed to put together a first class management and winemaking team to guide its future actions. We respectfully predict that you will hear a great deal more from Viña Estampa and its wonderful wines in the future.
Marcela Chandia - Winemaker
It is fitting that the winemaking chores at Vina Estampa be given to a woman... Marcela Chandia. Chandia bears an impressive resume having worked abroad for a number of impressive wineries. In California, she was associated with industry leader Kendall-Jackson Vineyards.
While in South Africa, the young winemaker worked with Winecorp, one of the South American nation’s leading vintners. Chandia also had stints with wineries in New Zealand, Portugal and France. Within her own country, Marcela worked with wineries such as Morande and Santa Rita. Most recently, she produced wines for the well-known Corpora Vineyards that are recognized for their high quality production.
Her vast international experience fits in well with the future aims of Vina Estampa, which are dedicated to producing the finest wines made in Chile. Chandia considers her new position as head winemaker a challenge that she is willing to accept. She has declared that nothing short of perfection will be the standard for Estampa’s wine portfolio.
Colchagua Valley, Chile
For starters, Chile's wine regions run an almost perfect north to south for almost 800 miles. They are influenced by the Andes Mountains and most of the better vineyards are found in proximity to the Andes' foothills.
The wines for this International Series are from the Colchagua Valley, located in Chile's central region, southwest of the capital of Santiago. The Gonzalez-Ortiz Family has been a leading grower in the Colchagua Valley for more than two decades. When the vision for Estampa emerged, it seemed a natural fit for the wide valley.
While actually a part of the larger Rapel Valley, the Colchagua Valley benefits from another coastal range of mountains and lies between them and the Andes. It is also interesting to note that the Andes are characterized by transversal chains that run perpendicular to the main range and at many points connect the two mountain ranges. Such is the case with Colchagua Valley.
The two ranges form a basin and create a natural corridor for the rewarding winds that blow from the Pacific to the Andes. A Mediterranean climate occurs that provides four distinct seasons that are almost ideal for growing grapes. Long, hot summers and cold nights allow the fruit to develop deep color, great aromatic expression and excellent tannic concentration.
The Colchagua Valley is also frost free, a definite plus for any long clinging grapes. Soils are varied, some being formed by lakes (lacustrine) and others formed by rivers or floods (alluvial).
This diversity allows for a number of varietal possibilities, depending on the needs and preferences of each varietal.
Viña Estampa is also looking toward the future and additional viticultural areas. A project closer to the Pacific Ocean around the town of Pichilemu is already underway. An additional venture around another Colchagua Valley growing area, Los Lingues, suddenly famous for the production of the varietal Carmenere, is also under consideration.
While the Colchagua Valley has been mostly known for producing exceptional red wines, Viña Estampa's imaginative plantings of white varietals has opened the valley to other potential production.
A History of Chilean Wines
In the past half-decade, the wineries of Chile’s new wave movement have made significant strides in establishing their nation as one of the worlds’ premier wine producing countries.
Given the fact that Chile’s wine history can be traced back to the Seventeenth Century, this news is probably no real surprise. Scores of new wineries along with a similar number of upgraded existing winery facilities have made Chilean wines a competitor in even the most stringent international wine competitions.
The scenario is not unlike that of California’s Central Coast wine growing and producing region, suddenly on par with the existing wine behemoths of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. It seems hard to believe that Chile, now released from a constricting political climate that handicapped its wine industry for decades, can count its wines among the world’s finest.
Plantings in Chile are also up impressively, with additional acreage rapidly under vine and attention being paid to developing and expanding new wine growing areas on a daily basis. The total acreage under vine has almost doubled since the mid 1990’s, and seems ready to accommodate additional vineyards.
This expansion has been pushed along by advantageous weather conditions throughout the entire country. In fact, the Chilean wine industry seems poised for further expansion and even greater achievements. What’s interesting about the whole development is the large amounts of capital that has poured into winery construction and expansion. While some of the money had come from outside sources (it has been considered a smart move for wineries in the United States, Europe and elsewhere to invest in Chile), the greater part of all investments have come from Chilean nationals who seem to know a good thing when they see it.
Companies in all forms of non-agricultural businesses now have a stake in a Chilean winery, be it large or small. Many have seen early payouts and a small number have enjoyed early financial success.
Chilean wines have always been considered great wines for the price and this continues to be true today. With more consumers aware of price/value relationships of wines, the fact that Chilean wines represent excellent value has also helped the Chilean cause. Many stores and restaurants now offer Chilean sections within their stores or on their wine lists.
The fact that many of these wines are now identified by their respective regions within Chile speaks legions to the fact that these wines are highly sought after. A few restaurants even list an ultra-premium Chilean selection for the most highly regarded wines, an honor formerly reserved for only France and California.
The world stage that is the international wine business has added a new member to compete for its prestigious audience. Chile was a longshot to accomplish this honor and credit should be given to the growers and vintners that have made it possible.
With entrepreneurial insight such as that expressed by this International Selection’s Viña Estampa, the momentum for further honors should be easy to continue.