Unique fair-trade wine from a bone-dry region
Cauquenes is known as the ‘cradle of Chilean wine’. An appropriate home, then, for the young wine cooperative VIDSECA (short for Asociación Gremial de Vitivinicultores del Secano de Cauquenes). An organisation that sprouted when, in August 2015, 22 enthusiastic winegrowers united to tackle the development of their disadvantaged region head-on.
They do so with the production of high-quality, artisanal País wine. A tradition that’s deeply seated in their majestic but bone-dry region. A government fund afforded them the financial means to get off the ground.
The winegrowers believe steadfastly in the need for VIDSECA and its mission. They are proud of their region and their wine heritage. Vines were already planted there 500 years ago for the church wine of the missionaries. Indeed, País vines that have borne grapes for 150 harvests and counting are no exception in Cauquenes.
País wine: authenticity inspires innovation
The País grape is an exceptional variety. It has adapted to the dry soil, sending its roots as far as 18 metres below the ground. Irrigation is not required as the plant can manage for months on the rainwater it receives in winter. Just as well, because the small-scale farmers in this region lack the means to irrigate the vines artificially.
The País grape bears enormous potential in the wine sector’s constant quest for innovation. And no one understands this better than the members of VIDSECA. Many of them come from families that have been cultivating and processing this grape for four generations. Albeit on a very small scale.
Each of the VIDSECA members makes their own artisanal wine at a small vinification facility using indigenous yeasts. Two members have a larger winery with large vats. This is where VIDSECA collects its wine for export.
Small winegrowers making a big difference
Its marvellous wine and unique story aside, VIDSECA also deserves support for its lobbying. The cooperative defends the interests of small-scale wine producers both in the region of Cauquenes and across all of Chile.
One of its objectives is to have País wine recognised with a designation of origin. It also secures government subsidies for members that seek to invest in their artisanal winemaking and visits countless trade fairs and other fora to promote the rich wine heritage of the Cauquenes region.
VIDSECA & Oxfam
- As Oxfam and VIDSECA were establishing their partnership in 2017, the region of Cauquenes was hit by extensive forest fires (info in Dutch). A number of winemakers from the cooperative were hit badly. Oxfam-Wereldwinkels responded by setting up a solidarity campaign. VIDSECA approached the government in Chile to discuss the causes (unsustainable forestry and industrial wine production, among others) and the consequences (further soil dehydration), and to seek support and constructive solutions.
- Since 2018, VIDSECA has produced a wine exclusively for Oxfam: a balanced blend of País wine (65%) with Carignan and Cabernet. Three of the cooperative’s members are oenologists. Together with a number of other producers they formed the testing panel that put together the wine for Oxfam. A year later the País monocépage – a wine made from only one grape variety, in this case – was introduced, a unique wine in our range.