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Félix Solís expands global footprint with 2024 Chilean vintage

Published:  28 May, 2024

Félix Solís Avantis’s new Chilean facility in the Cachapoal Valley is starting to bear fruit after barrel samples of its 2024 Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay were unveiled at last week's London Wine Fair. 

A prominent figure in the winemaking industry, Félix Solís announced the completion of its first winery outside Spain in April, marking a significant milestone in the global expansion of the business – international markets currently make up 65% of the company’s revenue.

The new €45m winery spans 136,000 square metres and features state-of-the-art technology, covering all stages of production from grape reception to bottling.

With a production capacity of 30 million litres, the facility is set to make a significant impact with its first vintage in 2024. 

Richard Cochrane (left), MD of Félix Solís UK, shared his insights with Harpers at the London Wine Fair (LWF): “The only sort of harvest business we’ve done this year has been in Chile. It’s our first venture down there, and we’ve been working with Chilean wine for the last seven years but this is our first vintage. The harvest was quite late this year, about three weeks later than we would normally expect, with yields being appreciably lower, partly in kilo weight but also the yield in press.”

Cochrane highlighted the company’s partnerships with local growers: “Up to now, we’ve been working with Central Valley Group, around Curicó and other parts. And with the 2024 vintage, we’ve been mostly working with areas like Casablanca for the whites, Aconcagua and Maipo for the Cabs and things. We’ve been able to get under the bonnets in these regions, meet some great growers making some incredible fruits, so we’ve done contracts with these guys, a big spectrum of growers, and we’ve brought in 12 million kilos of fruit, so that’s our first of the '24s.”

Félix Solís are LWF regulars – 2024 was the company’s 11th in a row. However, this year’s fair was the first since the August duty hikes. As a result, some adjustments have been made to the product ranges. “We spent three years taking abvs down for price-sensitive tiers, but most of the premium range has stayed the same in that sense, as it’s just not appropriate,” said Cochrane.

“We have moved some ranges down to 10% and 11%, but without using de-alcoholisation, using only work in the vineyard,” he added.

Sustainability also remains a core focus for Félix Solís. The company now sources its entire electricity supply from clean and renewable energy. A key milestone in its sustainability journey was the installation of 678 solar panels on the new automated barrel cellar, a state-of-the-art facility, and plans are underway to install additional solar panels to generate 25% of the total electricity needs for the main facility in Valdepeñas over the next few years.

“The sustainability we’re doing is much wider than just viticulture. We’ve mapped out all of our scopes one, two and three, and it’s very apparent scope three is by far the biggest share,” said Cochrane.

“The winery now runs on 100% renewable energy. We’ve invested a lot of money in that. The new barrel cellar we’ve put in, it’s 120,000 barrels of photovoltaic cells on the top which generates excess energy during the day so over the day/night cycle is still net positive,” Cochrane explained. He also mentioned the shift towards organic practices: “We are increasingly switching to organic across our vineyards, which has possibly been easier in Spain due to the climate there.”

In addition to energy initiatives, Félix Solís Avantis is also focused on sustainable packaging. Between 2019 and 2020, the company reduced glass consumption by 1,650 tonnes by decreasing the weight of its bottles. Cardboard boxes made entirely from recycled paper are now in use as part of a broader plan to minimise plastic usage.