A wave of bravery: Wild fires devastate historic vineyards in Chile.

Fires claimed centenarian vineyards in the Itata and Bio Bio valleys 
photo by Leo Erazo and Leoncio Fernandez 


For most of February, devastating fires burned through Chile's Itata and Bio Bio regions, home to some of the most inspiring winemakers I've ever met.  These are humble, curious, and incredibly skilled people, who've made it their life's work to revive and cultivate some of the world's oldest vineyards. They make energetic, expressive, and captivating wines in celebration of this remote region's heritage. 

The recorded damage from the fires is staggering. Dozens dead, thousands displaced, and over one million acres severely damaged or destroyed.  The steep physical and emotional recovery needed is hard to imagine. There’s a layered debate around the prevention of such episodes in the future that will hopefully gain more traction where it needs to.  I'm linking a great piece by Alistair Cooper for a more in depth look at how loose regulations in the Chilean lumber industry affect this directly.

Over the last month, I've been in touch with importers and growers, searching for ways to best help from a distance. Though there are now a few organized fundraising efforts (links below), the most common response echoes Leonardo Erazo's plea: "there is no better support, moral or economic, than people enjoying bottles from these special places."  His work has contributed immensely to Itata’s reintroduction to the wine scene, influencing talent from afar. In the tail end of 2022, we got to meet Dani Rozman, an American so deeply inspired by Leo’s work, that he partnered with him and began his project in the Itata Valley called “Onda Brava”.  

I'll say this: Our interest in and enjoyment of these wines is a big part of this healing effort, and allows for the stories of these amazing winemakers to continue being told.  If the energy of cru Beaujolais and Loire Valley wines resonate with your palate, Itata and Bio Bio wines are for you.

For this feature, we're offering a 10% discount on any mix of 6 bottles or more of the wines in the Itata & Bio Bio collection below.

If you're reading this, you may be able to recall a moving experience with wine.  Maybe it was that unicorn bottle shared with people you love, or a recommendation that hit just right. Sometimes, it's wines that somehow manage to contextualize all the great effort of meaningful winemaking—the high stakes decisions, physical work, emotional investment, intention, humanity—and give a totally different scale to that purchase, whatever it may be. 

The wines from these brave growers have always given me so much joy. They're delicious—but also a symbol of resiliency and vision (Latino pride applies here for sure!). I know they'll do the same for you.

Abrazos e mucha fuerza a todos, 
Bruno Sant'Anna
You can donate to Leonardo and his family A los Viñateros Bravos to help them replant their vineyard destroyed by the fires, on their GoFundMe page.


Image of Leonardo Erazo "Piel de Arcilla" Moscatel 2021
Leonardo Erazo "Piel de Arcilla" Moscatel 2021
"Piel de Arcilla" or “clay skin”, is the result of Leo's ongoing exploration of Itata's "Tinajas" tradition. The wine is made with own-rooted Moscatel grapes harvested from a vineyard planted in the late 1800's. Spontaneous fermentation occurs in amphorae and grapes are left in contact with their skins for 6-8 weeks with manual punch downs. It is then pressed manually with a basket press and aged on its less for 1 year. Bottled by gravity without any clarification or filtration.

This wine shows Moscatel's super inviting tropical aroma (sea spray/mango/passion fruit), yet its old-vine phenolic richness is cut by the textural tension from the skins, and a brisk, saline streak of acidity cleans things up, giving this wine electric focus. 400 bottles made.

- Bruno Sant'Anna
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Image of Leonardo Erazo "La Resistencia" Pais 2021
Leonardo Erazo "La Resistencia" Pais 2021
"La Resistencia" is an homage to Itata’s history of honest and respectful viticulture. Against all odds, these old vines have survived the test of time.

This delicately fresh and well-structured Pais, is harvested from a 0.5 acre vineyard planted in 1867. Native yeast, whole cluster fermentation, punch downs, and 6 weeks maceration, manual basket press, and ages on lees for a year on concrete sphere tanks then bottled by gravity.

Floral and high-toned (think wild raspberries and hibiscus tea) this wine gives off serious "Poulsard" vibes. It is delicate aromatically, and the fruit clarity on the palate is countered by a firm mineral tonality, giving it structure and a cool savory finish.

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Image of Leonardo Erazo "Rey Perico" Pet Nat 2022
Leonardo Erazo "Rey Perico" Pet Nat 2022
"Rey Perico" is Pet Nat made with Moscatel and Torontel harvested from a 60 year old vineyard in Alto Magdalena (next to the Carignan "Hombre en llamas" vineyard). Grapes are gently pressed and fermented with native yeast in stainless steel, and bottled just before the wine is done fermenting.

Insanely refreshing: Lemon sorbet, mint, salt. More please. :)

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Image of Onda Brava Cinsault 2021
Onda Brava Cinsault 2021
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Image of Onda Brava Moscatel 2021
Onda Brava Moscatel 2021
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