SANTIAGO – With wine tastings and other festivities, Chile celebrates its National Wine Day in honor of an industry that exports billions of dollars in vintages to more than 140 countries around the globe.
That was the word of Chile’s Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker to EFE during the official act of National Wine Day, organized by the Chilean Wine Association at the Santa Carolina Vineyard with its long winemaking tradition.
“It’s a great holiday for a country like Chile with more than 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) of vineyards, more than $2 billion in exports annually, and which creates 500,000 jobs for the many rural families who depend on this wonderful product” for their livelihoods, said Walker, who stressed above all the quality of Chilean wines.
He said his ministry gives solid support to the promotion of Chilean wines abroad, with an investment this year of 10,000 million pesos (some $15 million).
According to official figures, Chile is the biggest wine exporter in the Southern Hemisphere and fourth in the world. Some 1.9 billion people have consumed Chilean wine worldwide, and the country “has everything” it needs to keep developing the industry, Walker said.
The minister said the principal markets for Chilean wine are Europe, the United States and Latin America, and that now the big challenge is “to conquer Asia, mainly China, India, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and North Africa.”
“Chilean wine prevails for its quality,” Walker said, recalling that winemaking arrived in this country with the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
The first written reference is in a letter from the founder of Santiago, Pedro de Valdivia, sent to Carlos V on Sept. 4, 1545, the reason why in 2015 that date became Chile’s National Wine Day.
In the letter, Valdivia asked the monarch to send “grapevines and wines to evangelize Chile.”
The program of festivities includes celebrations where those present can taste the best vintages produced here: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot and Syrah, among others, as well as a number of varietals.