In 1996, the Chadwicks entered into a partnership with the Robert Mondavi family, which presented an ideal opportunity for us to realize our global vision of winemaking centered on an exchange of cultures and winemaking philosophies.
"We saw the same potential in Chile that we saw in Napa Valley 30 years ago," said R. Michael Mondavi, President and CEO of Robert Mondavi. "But most importantly, with Caliterra we saw people who are dedicated to producing wines that belong in the company of the greatest wines in the world."
Caliterra quickly evolved into a true working partnership. In the vineyards, viticulturists Pedro Izquierdo of Chile and Andy Bledsoe of California work together on all aspects of winegrowing, including planning new vineyard sites, managing existing vineyards and harvesting the grapes at their peak. They concentrate their efforts on finding the best vineyard sources for each variety.
In 1998, Caliterra crushed its first vintage at La Arboleda, a new, state-of-the-art winery located in the Colchagua Valley. Colchagua, which is located within the Valle Central appellation, is quickly becoming one of Chile's premiere regions for red varieties. Looking ahead, Caliterra will continue to explore the potential of Chilean wines as newer vineyards develop. The partners also plan to build a visitors center.
Dramatic geographic and climatic changes from west to east make Chile an exciting frontier for wines of all styles. Chile’s entire western border is Pacific coastline, its center is composed of warm valleys and on its eastern border, are the soaring Andes Mountains.
Chile’s central valleys, sheltered by the costal ranges, and in some parts climbing the eastern slopes of the Andes, remain relatively warm and dry. The conditions are ideal for producing concentrated, full-bodied, aromatic reds rich in black and red fruits. The eponymous Aconcagua Valley—hot and dry—is home to intense red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.
Chilly breezes from the Antarctic Humboldt Current allow the coastal regions of Casablanca Valley and San Antonio Valley to focus on the cool climate loving varieties, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Chile’s Coquimbo region in the far north, containing the Elqui and Limari Valleys, historically focused solely on Pisco production. But here the minimal rainfall, intense sunlight and chilly ocean breezes allow success with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The up-and-coming southern regions of Bio Bio and Itata in the south make excellent Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Spanish settlers, Juan Jufre and Diego Garcia de Cáceres, most likely brought Vitis vinifera (Europe’s wine producing vine species) to the Central Valley of Chile sometime in the 1550s. One fun fact about Chile is that its natural geographical borders have allowed it to avoid phylloxera and as a result, vines are often planted on their own rootstock rather than grafted.
Capable of a vast array of styles, Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp, refreshing variety that equally reflects both terroir and varietal character. Though it can vary depending on where it is grown, a couple of commonalities always exist—namely, zesty acidity and intense aromatics. This variety is of French provenance. Somm Secret—Along with Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc is a proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. That green bell pepper aroma that all three varieties share is no coincidence—it comes from a high concentration of pyrazines (herbaceous aromatic compounds) inherent to each member of the family.