As we take time this long weekend to celebrate our nation’s independence, it is appropriate to highlight a great complement to every fireworks celebration: Chilean wine. I realize it doesn’t sound very American, but given “The Next Napa” moniker assigned to the Colchagua Valley, I would say it is worth the fuss.
While you wouldn’t know it based on a last name like Murphy, I was brought up in a VERY Italian family. My grandparents taught me at a very young age the value of good food and good wine and would often invoke the Italian proverb: “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.” For Chileans, who at times are known more for their love of sports than anything else, would say the same about their pairing of fine cuisine and fine wines.
The wine heritage in Chile spans over 460 years. A diverse climate coupled with French influence during the 1800s allowed Chile to develop into a major player in the wine industry. However, according to the Vinos De Chile website, “two world wars and decades of state protectionism forced the country down a solitary path that isolated it technologically for nearly 50 years.” Therefore, only in the 1980s after some restrictive domestic regulations were relaxed, did Chile get to revive their long history of producing fine wines.
Today, over 20 grape varieties are grown in Chile and it is the fourth largest exporter of wine into the United States behind France, Italy and Australia.
And their social media presence and advertising speak to this high ranking.
Drivers of the “Natural Choice” Brand
While many outside Chile would argue that fútbol, rodeo, trekking and Chile dominate the tourist audience, there has been a strong social media effort to remind people that one of Chile’s strongest assets lies along a small 800 mile stretch of picturesque coast line. And with over 54% of the population on the internet, the niche social media space the wine enthusiasts occupy is valuable. Numerous sites boast several wine tours by car and even bicycle throughout the region and stress that the wineries have rebounded strongly after the earthquake in 2010 that rattled the industry.
One strong social media asset is Vinos De Chile (Wines of Chile), the national association for the wine industry. They are a one stop shop – they blog; they tweet; Facebook; they YouTube; they provide up to the minute news about tours, upcoming events, and the industry as a whole – they do it all, all the while stressing the need to “Discover Chile.”
Another major asset for Chilean wine was the acquisition of Chilean deal site ClanDescuento by Groupon, an expansion into Latin America that is likely to pay strong dividends as the number of internet users continues to grow and Chile continues to impress at the international competitions.
Yet another strong social media platform for Chilean wines is the wine blogosphere. From DrVino.com to Steve Heimoff, Chilean wines get the praise of the bargain wine without the bargain taste. And many are quick to note the serene landscapes that accompany the wines to emphasize the “Natural Choice” for your palette.
Chile, for a country of just over nine million people has done its homework. In a global wine industry dominated by Europe, Australia and the United States, they have taken one of their prized assets, branded humanized it as a quality wine at a bargain price for all palettes, and then advertised it online. In an age of increasingly “aggressive” advertising and marketing practices, especially when there is competition to find the best wine for a celebration, it is refreshing to see that some countries still let their heritage do the talking for them.