the Fieldcraft Bottlings


37bd7993-38c1-4ff5-a116-e37ad65901d4 The Secano Interior, or dry-farmed interior, is the cradle of Chilean viticulture dating back to the 1500’s. Revived attention in wines from what are some of the oldest pre-phyloxera vines on the planet has led to interest and investment, but the machinations of the modern world do not always mesh with the gearing of the old.

At Garage Wine Co. we have worked with small farmers in the Secano Interior ploughing the vines and cultivating the land for years now. We have built our small firm together. The vignerons’ families have dry-farmed the Secano since colonial times, and not just their vineyards, but mixed farms of heritage seed wheat, free-range livestock, and local market gardening. Yet as South American wine exports have boomed over the last quarter century, it has grown increasingly difficult for these small growers to sell their grapes at a proper price.

Work after the Earthquake in 2010 with Nivaldo Morales & Renan Cancino

After the earthquake in Chile in 2010 we developed a bootstrapping scheme to help the community rebuild. We invested in recuperating their Carignan vineyards. With help from Bibendum, our UK importer, we went to work and shipped the wines when they were ready. Fast forward 8 years and in The Wine Advocate of Robert Parker, three of these old-vine Carignan vineyards were considered by Luis Gutierrez to be some of the most notable wines made in Chile. The vineyards, once diamonds in the rough, lost in the Secano have literally grown an international following.

Unfortunately, this success is isolated. In the region today, modern buyers want more for less and they would have the small modernise: spray instead of cultivate, scale instead of focus, and above all reduce the cost of labour. But the labour is precisely where you find the wisdom of farming passed down through the years: the fieldcraft if you will. With the pushing aside of this wisdom of farming down the ages, proper farming and fine wine are being undermined by short-term thinking. 

Cultivated Vines were Firebreaks

Some call our way of thinking soft , but at Garage we think the wine trade is stronger with the small farmers in it—and the wines are too. In a world that wants more sustainably grown foods, these farmers have a 400+ year head-start. Never was this more evident than in 2017 with the devastating bushfires in Chile. A clear and present pattern emerged: the only firebreaks that stopped the spread of the forest flames were the small green cultivated farms of the vignerons. This is why it is significant that our first release of what we have come to call “the fieldcraft bottlings” was the Phoenix Ferment Pais 2017— born out of the ashes. 

The Phoenix was the first of a series of wines that don’t ordinarily get made. We have come to call them : the Fieldcraft Bottlings. Normally the grapes would be relegated to bulk because they are small parcels that defy the modern model of necessary scale, the practicality of harvest, proximity to transport, valid D.O. paperwork (Denomination of Origin)… … and so on.

IMG_7085At the behest of clients, in 2018: Handpicked in Sweden and Bibendum in UK we continued our Fieldcraft efforts with Semillon.
on skins. We are making a red as well but we are holding details in reserve, for in the words of the vigneron who is working with us on it: “When there is something in the bottle, there is something to talk about.” Sage counsel indeed, so we’ll just give it the working label of Sage Counsel Red for now.

If you are in the trade and interested in these bottlings we would like to hear from you. They will be sold through our established network, but nothing helps get established networks moving than customers interested in purchasing! Take a minute and send us a note and we shall try to get an allocation of Fieldcraft into your market.