Some winemakers are sententious about their profession; others are prone to aggrandizing loquaciously about the traditions of terroir and the nuisances of tannins. Viña Cono Sur’s Chief Winemaker, Adolfo Hurtado, is neither of those things.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s leading commercial winemakers and something of a maverick, the charismatic Chilean discusses wine in a manner that makes it immediately accessible to his audience. His youthful exuberance is infectious. Despite the hectic nature of his work, his patent equanimity and jovial demeanour suggests he derives plenty of pleasure from his occupation and its delicious by-product.
Self-deprecating and generous with his time when he has it, his modesty masks the fact he has been central to the transformation of Cono Sur over the last 15 years; the countless gold medals and winemaker of the year awards a testament to his talent and ambition.
were fortunate enough to grab a few minutes of Adolfo’s time at the 2012 London International Wine Trade Fair
to discuss his winemaking philosophy, mountain-biking in the Andes and his insatiable appetite for that archetypal and identifiable English dish...fish and chips.
Briefly describe yourself and your attitude to winemaking…
I think as a winemaker for Cono Sur we are all really trying to do something a little different from others in Chile, by using and highlighting different grape varieties in order to produce different styles. We are looking for elegance and finesse more than the concentration and the heavy tannins.
How did you get into winemaking and what inspired you to do so…
To be a winemaker in Chile, you first have to study agronomy which is a five year course, with the final two specialising in wine. So having established wine was something I wanted to do, I embarked on the course.
My family from both sides, my mother and father, are related to farms and agriculture so since I was a kid I had no doubt that I wanted to be an agronomist and during my five years, I found that wine was my passion.
My grandfather used to be a winemaker and my father was born in Casablanca Valley, so they were both very involved with agriculture. I think wine has always been built in me even though when I started to study I was not exactly sure about that.
What are your main passions outside of wine?
Of course I love my family and I spend lots of time with them, but I really like to do sports, particularly outdoor sports. I do marathons and I really like to ride my bicycle. I love my mountain bike. Outside of wine, biking is my passion. Just five minutes from my house and you are climbing the Andes Mountains.
If you didn't make wine what would you do?
That is a really good question. It’s always been wine for me but I really like the fishing industry. Most likely I would probably be a salmon fisher in Chile. I love fishing.
What is your favourite meal?
I really like to enjoy sushi. I like ceviche as well, but I prefer Sushi. I have to say I really like fish and chips as well! I’ve only been in the UK for two days but I have had fish and chips three times! Its delicious.
Where is your favourite place in your vineyard to sit down quietly with a glass of wine?
There is a place called Campo Lindo in San Antonio Valley, which in Spanish translates as the beautiful estate. It is a really beautiful piece of land near to the ocean. It is not far from Leyda and houses 130 hectares of organic vineyards. I love being there, and being creative there, and it is one of the greatest pleasures being able to work there. I can’t think of a better place to be.
Briefly describe a day in the life of Adolfo Hurtado
I wake up early, especially when I need to visit some of our different vineyards. Sometimes I will have to go from the north of Chile to the south, like 1000kms, to view our different vineyards so there is often a lot of driving involved!
I will then spend the morning on the vineyard, tasting grapes and deciding when and how we need to pick those grapes. During the evening we are usually trying wine in order to determine what you need to blend with what. I have a great team around me and we all work together extremely hard. Also an important part of winemaking is speaking with people! A winemaker’s job is not finished after the harvest!
To view our wines from Cono Sur, click here.
Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery was founded in 1993, with the vision of producing premium, expressive and innovative wines conveying the spirit of the New World. Right from the start Cono Sur applied new ideas and technology to winemaking creating expressive and innovative wines from the world’s southernmost land.
To view our wines from Chile, click here.