Chilean giant Viña San Pedro claims to be on the verge of producing the country’s first wine grown by the Mapuche community.
Chile’s indigenous people, the Mapuche make up around 10% of the population, but have traditionally had little or no input in the country’s wine scene.
The new project is in the southern reaches of Chile’s wine area, south of Itata in the DO Malleco, between Concepción and Temuco.
A decidedly cool region, the 10-hectare vineyard is producing only Pinot Noir, with the first grapes expected to be picked next year. To allow the Mapuche to buy vines and plant the vineyards, San Pedro has introduced a new business model, paying them for the first year’s crop in advance.
‘The Mapuche had little history of grape growing,’ said Vina San Pedro’s commercial director, Cristian Le Dantec. ‘We have had technical people helping them out in the vineyard and they are learning. Now there are other families who want to do it too.
‘There are few other vineyards in this area, but Leyda and Elqui [Valleys] were once exploratory regions, too. Ten years ago, it was all about the north, but now everything is moving to the south.’
Earlier in the week, San Pedro released a range of wines produced specifically for the palate of the UK on-trade.