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UK release for wine from Chilean vineyard given new lease of life after 2010 earthquake

Published:  24 August, 2015

Walker & Wodehouse is to launch a wine in the UK made from grapes from old Carignan vineyards in Chile that were devastated by the earthquake of 2010.

The Ploughmen is the result of investment in a community in Maule by Derek Mossman Knapp of Garage Wine Co, who used prize money awarded to him by the Geoffrey Roberts Trust.

Walker & Wodehouse and parent company Bibendum have subsequently further invested in the Ploughmen Project and the first UK release will be shown at the Walker & Wodehouse trade tastings in London on September 7 and Manchester on September 14.

The wine comes from a plot that belongs to farmer Don Nivaldo Morales (pictured) and his wife Otelia, in Sauzal in the Maule Valley.

The vines are cultivated by hand and horse using traditional methods of dry-farming that are more than 100 years old. Grapes were manually-pressed and naturally fermented with native yeasts in open-top fermenters.

The wine was barrel aged for two winters in mostly third-use French oak and has been bottle aged for over a year before release.

It is available exclusively to the UK independent retail sector via Walker & Wodehouse.

Mossman Knapp said: "The earthquake of 2010 struck just before harvest, in the heart of the Maule, the cradle of Chilean viticulture. The farmers, who had ploughed the earth since colonial times, saw their earth twist and turn, and their homes torn asunder.

"I saw the farmers as they were getting up, brushing themselves off, and getting on with things.

"Their resilience was inspiring. I proposed that instead of maximising the vineyards' kilos for bulk wine, we could, together, make wines of place, one from each parcel, and bottle them separately?no matter how small.

"Then I got involved, working shoulder to shoulder to make the transition happen. It has been five years and we think - and we are no longer alone - that we have made some superb wines that will excite fine wine lovers on the other side of the planet. "

Walker & Wodehouse managing director Gareth Groves added: "The story of Derek's work with the ploughman farmers is amazing. Derek has used his passion for the old vineyards of the Maule valley and his undoubted skill in the cellars to help create a superb wine and a much more positive future for Don Nivaldo and Otelia's family.

"It is a handmade wine in every sense, and it needs to be hand-sold too so consumers can hear that story for themselves. The independent trade is the perfect sector for such a unique wine."