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INTERVIEW with Viña Concha y Toro : Wine industry in Asia

Concha y Toro_Puente Alto Vineyard 02

Celebrating 30 Years of a Chilean Wine Legend at Vinexpo Hong Kong last May,
Viña Concha y Toro announces its plans for Asian expansion.


“Don Melchor is the founding father of Chilean fine wine,” says Eduardo Guilisasti, CEO of Viña Concha y Toro and a member of the family of the family who believed in the potential of Puente Alto terroir from the beginning. Crafted in the Puente Alto terroir and sharing its first vintage (1987) with the world in 1988, Don Melchor is Chile’s first ultra-premium wine, embodying the prestige and tradition of an exceptional Chilean red.

The legend of Don Melchor takes flight in 1883, when Don Melchor set off from his native land of Chile to travel across oceans and continents. He sought to fulfill a lifelong dream of visiting Bordeaux, France – home to the world’s most famous wine growing regions. From there, he carefully transported French vines back to Chile and planted the seeds for one of the finest wineries in the foothills of the Andes.

Today, Don Melchor travels from Viña Concha y Toro’s Puente Alto vineyard located at the foot of the Andes Mountains to reach wine lovers around the globe, winning the highest praise as a distinctive wine exhibiting the unique characteristics of its heritage and history. With the best expression, finesse and elegance that Cabernet Sauvignon has to offer, Don Melchor is an iconic legend that lives on.

Retail in Asia met Isabel Guilisasti, Owner of Concha y Toro, shared with us Concha y Toro’s strategies to expand in Asia and more interestingly to engage younger generations. Retail in Asia has also got the chance to ask her about her experience in the wine industry as a woman in leadership in a men-dominated industry.

Concha y Toro_Puente Alto Vineyard 02
Source : Viña Concha y Toro

RiA : From a family business to global company, how do you manage the growth?

Isabel : Viña Concha y Toro’s passion for winemaking dates back more than 134 years, when it planted its first vines in Chile’s Puente Alto terroir. Throughout this time, we have remained a family business, which is first and foremost committed to sharing the art of its winemaking with consumers around the globe. Our commitment to quality is our single most important focus and this has allowed us to grow globally.

In order to deliver on the shifting needs of consumers in every market, we are always seeking opportunities to bring innovation to the fore and better serve every generation of wine lovers. Our Research and Innovation Center, for example, seeks to promote technological development; applying research and knowledge to make the wine industry more competitive and sustainable.

RiA : As a woman in a mainly men-dominated industry. How do you find your space?

Isabel : I have been fortunate throughout my career to work with a collaborative and dynamic group of men and women across all different departments: from viticulture, to winemaking, to sales and marketing. As in every industry, there remains a gender gap, but I believe that this can be overcome, and I am proud to be a positive role model to other women with an interest in the wine industry.

RiA :  Viña Concha y Toro has been strengthening its presence in Asia-Pacific, what is your strategy and do you feel is still there a need to build a wine culture?

Isabel : Digital commerce, social media, and the rising middle class are the key reasons that the wine market in Asia just keeps growing and growing. Additionally, younger Asian consumers are travelling abroad and have developed an interest in wine; particularly new world wines.

To support the growth of the industry and wine culture, Viña Concha y Toro is focused on providing consumers high quality wine at an accessible price point. We have seen that consumers in Asia are more knowledgeable than before, so quality and authenticity of the products are key to appeal to them. That is why our marketing strategy is mainly based on a transparent storytelling of the production process. As per our distribution in Asia, we work with partners in each market to build strong brands and distribution systems.
How about price point?

Viña Concha y Toro is renowned for our exceptional quality and humble prices. We are dedicated to producing some of the world’s finest wines, at a wide range of price points. We believe that the best wines do not have to be the most expensive, and that the passion and heritage of exceptional New World winemaking should be available to all.

RiA : Chile has a strong country of origin effect in the wine industry, however, in Asia, consumers have a wide range of choices, from the very well established

French to the emerging New Zealander wines. What’s your value proposition for Asian customers?

Isabel : To start with, Chilean wine comes exceptional winemaking conditions given by the unique geology and climate, which characterizes Chile. With the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Andes Mountain Range to the East, our vineyards enjoy salty ocean breezes, hot days and cool nights – perfect for growing grapes. As a result, Chilean wines give great value to consumers, with consistent quality year after year. Being varietal led also means that the wines are easier for consumers to understand compared to those regionally led Old World wines.

We share our passion for wine across the world’s second largest vineyard holding of 11,000 hectares – spanning Chile, Argentina and California.

RiA : What’s your most profitable market in Asia?

Isabel : While we cannot comment on our most profitable market, we can say that China continues to be a key growth market for Viña Concha y Toro. Wine Intelligence has listed Viña Concha y Toro and our wine brand Casillero del Diablo high amongst the 10 most recognized imported wine brands in China (at positions #1 and #4).

Consumers in China are numerous, but they are also increasingly discerning. Therefore, we are prioritising brand investment and a long-term, sustainable strategy in China. We are working to build robust local partnerships and develop solid distribution networks will have a significant role to play in the company’s success at reaching consumers in China.

RiA : Do you see an opportunity Australia, where wine domestic market is very strong? How would you position your wines?

Isabel : Even in places with a strong domestic market like Australia, consumers still enjoy opportunities to explore the wine of other cultures and we see varieties where Chile has unique propositions such as great value Pinot Noir and its iconic Carmenere being very successful. Chile offers one of the world’s most exciting viticultural locations, with abundant sunshine, microclimates for every grape, a tradition of French winemaking techniques and a new generation of sustainable winemaking practices which bring our “home-grown” approach to consumers around the world.

RiA :  How are you targeting millennials, who seem keen to explore craft beer more than wine?

Isabel : In Asia, we are now seeing a unique trend wherein consumers of all ages, but particularly the younger generation have more and more opportunities to travel abroad. During these travels, they are experiencing the world of wine; and when they get home, they bring with them a burgeoning interest in new styles of wine, particularly from New World origins like Chile and Australia. Craft beer is certainly another passion of this generation, but it all depends on occasion. For meals and festive occasions, consumers still prefer wine; especially now that it’s easier to access exceptional-quality bottles at affordable prices.

Development of brands and wine styles particularly targeted to the millennial consumer is also important, and we have looked to extend our brands accordingly with new wines like 1000 Stories, a Bourbon barrel aged Zinfandel from California, blending categories reflecting the craft approach and the new packaging for Casillero del Diablo Red Blend.

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At the moment, in response to profound structural shifts in the global wine industry, Viña Concha y Toro is introducing a new, consumer-centric corporate strategy. Our aim is to better deliver on the changing needs of consumers in every market. We are strengthening focus on the premium portfolio, invigorating our commitment to innovation, and spearheading structural changes to unlock new opportunities. Ultimately, this will all enable us to better share our passion for winemaking with wine lovers around the world!