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Santa Rita half way to launch first wave of wines following WiSe project

Published:  22 March, 2019

Santa Rita Estates (SRE) is launching the first wave of wines from the ‘new’ vines it planted five years ago as part of its quality driven WiSe project.

The Chilean producer said it was “just scratching the surface of really starting to change things” and that it was expecting to see a “real change” in five years time on the back of its strategy to improve quality via the WiSe initiative - a name derived from ‘wine and seed’.

With “massive investment all round”, Santa Rita was a different company to what it was five years ago, chief executive Andres Lavados told Harpers.

“We understand the consumer now, we are very united as a company and have a clear strategy based on doing things differently to increase the quality of the wine we produce,” he said.

It was a “slow but steady process” but Santa Rita’s wines are much better today than last year with improvements seen every year, he added.

“We know Chile’s ‘cheerful and cheap’ strategy failed to pay off so the focus for us turned to showing the world we can do high quality,” he said.

“We know we can do it and that we have to do it better to compete with the competition, which is the highest it has ever been. There was nothing wrong with the quality before but today you have to be at your super best to compete.”

The WiSe project came about in 2014 after discussions with a number of international oenological consultants on how the SRE vines and vineyards were performing.

“Many of the vines on our Maipo estate were planted in the 1990’s without the benefit of a scientific formula which we now have in place,” said Lavados. “Technological advances have enabled SRE to do site specific surveys taking into account soils, aspect and regional micro-climates. Using this knowledge, SRE now plants specific vineyards with specially chosen varietals, clones and rootstocks.”

Since being implemented, WiSe had evolved from “being a project to become a company philosophy”, he added.