Aurelio Montes named president of Wines of Chile
New York, NY: Wines of Chile, dedicated to promoting Chilean wines worldwide, is delighted to announce the appointment of Aurelio Montes as the new President of the global organization. The well-known principal partner and founder of Montes Wines assumed the leadership June 10. Joining him at the helm as Executive Director USA for Wines of Chile is Julio Alonso. Alonso comes to the U.S. following a successful tenure in China as Wines of Chile’s Executive Director Asia. The experience working that large, challenging and competitive market will be invaluable in increasing sales in the US, where market share has been falling. Currently Chile is the seventh largest source of U.S. wine imports.
Montes, a talented oenologist, was also one of the first in Chile to personally promote and sell his high-end wines to overseas clients in the 1980s. That business savvy and can-do energy was on display at the inaugural Wines of Chile event under his leadership, “Chile Uncorked,” held in New Orleans June 5- 7. The three-day immersion for the trade into Chile’s vibrant current wine scene was the first execution in the new vision and strategic direction for Wines of Chile with its new team.
“Chile Uncorked” featured 32 wineries and their principals, representing the largest-ever gathering of Chilean winemakers under one roof in the U.S. Attended by around 50 sommeliers, buyers and press, there were 192 wines tasted and over 12,000 glasses poured. Notable speakers included Sandy Block MW, Vice President of Beverage Operations, Legal Seafoods, Patricio Tapia, Editor of Descorchados, Chile’s leading wine guide, and Evan Goldstein MS, author of Wines of South America and President and Chief Education Officer of Full Circle Wine Solutions, which ran the event.
The goal of “Chile Uncorked” was to provide attendees with an up-to-the-minute comprehensive understanding of what Chile offers in terms of strengths, new trends, the expected and unexpected. For Wines of Chile, the event not only created ambassadors and influencers, but also provided invaluable feedback and insights from roundtable discussions and evaluations. That “local intelligence” will help Wines of Chile create an effective U.S. strategy.
The success of “Chile Uncorked” indicates that this “deep dive” will be replicated in the future, but the Wines of Chile President is realistic that changing perceptions and increasing sales will take time. “Change is like steering a boat. To not capsize, you must do it slowly and smoothly.” Small, incremental steps include setting up smaller, non-stop events around the country “to make noise until it becomes a big shout.” With those events Montes also hopes to diversify the wineries introduced to the U.S., presenting smaller producers as well.
The message is simple. Chile, influenced by the Andes Mountains, Pacific Ocean, the Humboldt Current and the Coastal Mountains, offers a diversity of terroir second-to-none, perfect growing conditions for organic grape production, and an innovative wine community keen to develop new regions and showcase new varieties. “That diversity is both a blessing and a challenge,” notes Goldstein, who sees education as the solution to presenting Chile’s fast-evolving wine scene. What remains a constant is the exciting story Chile has to tell.
The mission of Wines of Chile is to promote the quality and image of Chilean wines throughout the world. With offices in the United States, China, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Chile, the organization, working closely with ProChile, develops and offers promotional and educational programs. Its members represent over 75% percent of Chile’s bottled wine exports.