Comment: Saving the heartland of Chilean wine
How a new generation has been fighting to save some of Chile’s oldest vineyards from industrial pine forests and pulp factories.
My friend Steve Anderson died earlier this year. Car crash, southern Chile. A journalist, campaigner and all-round cranky man, he gave me my first proper job.
His main role in life was to be a pain in the backside. Mainly to those in positions of power, in a country that sorely needed champions for the dispossessed, disappeared and disenfranchised. He also fought to protect the countryside, especially that of Chile’s glorious yet imperilled south.
Why imperilled? The great poet Neruda described southern Chile as ‘a vertical world: a nation of birds, a plenitude of leaves’.
Yet those leaves weren’t the needles of the vast, industrial pine forests that now smother the hills of Bío Bío and Araucanía, bleeding them dry of groundwater and muscling out other agriculture – historic vineyards included.
Peter Richards MW is Regional Chair for Chile at the Decanter World Wine Awards and also chair of the Decanter Retailer Awards