You arrive in Caliterra winery after a half an hour drive from the center of Santa Cruz in Chile. You pass from the control at the entrance of the property and drive a couple of minutes in the dusty roads; soon you will have to turn your head to the right to see the breathtaking vineyard plots. I now know this road by heart, since I have been taking it every morning during the harvest time. I spent the first 2016 harvest by making wine in this exceptional part of the wine world.
Caliterra Winery was founded in 1966 by two gentlemen who shared the same dream: Making premium wine to showcase the terroir of Colchagua Valley. Those two gentlemen were Robert Mondavi and Eduardo Chadwick. Today the winery continues its mission under Viña Errázuriz. The name of the winery represents the dream precisely. It’s a combination of two Spanish words, calidad (quality) and tierra (land).
What makes Caliterra Winery special is their location which creates an absolutely unique terroir, surrounded by the hills. In 2005, they also introduced some hillside plantings, to be accompanied to the initial plots on the plateau, planted in 1997. With the plantations made in 2008, now they have two hundred and eighty-eight hectares of vineyards in the estate.
Let’s take a small walk in the vineyards of the Caliterra, where they produce grapes with the idea of being respectful to nature and sustainable. They have small gardens in between the plots where they keep the local flora and fauna inside of the estate. If we’re lucky, we can see the family of the llamas going around in between the vines. They do eat the grapes from time to time, but at the end, it’s their right to share the products of the soil on which they are living.
At Caliterra Winery, a huge amount of work goes into evaluation of the terroir, the grapes and the corresponding wine style. A wide range of the grape varieties are grown: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Carmenere, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Carignan and Syrah from reds, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon blanc from whites. Moreover, they have a wide range of equipment: stainless steel tanks, concrete tanks, egg-shaped tanks, amphorae, French and American oak barrels of different capacities, pneumatic press and vertical press for smaller loads… All these grape varieties, coming from different soils and microclimates, find the chance to be processed in the correct equipment in Caliterra Winery. In the end they produce wines in different segments: Cenit as their icon, Edicion limitada as blends (A, Andes blend; B, Bordeaux blend; M, Mediterranean blend), Tributo with their mono-varietal wines, Reserva for any occasion and finally DSTNT. With all different grapes and equipment, I can say that Caliterra Winery is a great opportunity for winemakers to experience different styles and techniques.
The mornings at the winery generally start with a thick fog. Everything hides under the fog until noon, after that, the sun takes control and dominates the day like nothing happened. It gives joy to look at the view for a while in between the busy schedule of the harvest.
After being a part of the production, the value that you give to a wine changes completely. In Caliterra Winery, I saw nature and the actions that are taken to respect the land. Not only that, but also the respect to the people who work there. As you can imagine, during harvest time, they need some help from the seasonal employees, so they receive people from the region, and also from other countries. Coming together under the Caliterra family, everybody works with coherency. The company organizes some events to bring together all the employees from vineyard to the offices; such as tastings of a wine that is released, lunch for Easter, ceremony for welcoming the harvest and party for the end of the harvest. These events increase the interaction between the employees and create motivation.
In Caliterra, the details matter, and create the magic at the end of the day.
All images © 2017 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.