GARAGE WINE CO
"In these times it is important to stand for what you believe in, and more importantly to do the kind of business you believe in."
Garage Wine Co makes wines from a series of individual parcels, small lots / bottlings of 8-22 barrels that include a series of dry-farmed field-blends of Carignan, Garnacha, Monastrell, País, Cinsault and Cab Franc grown on pre-phylloxera rootstock with small farmers in the Maule and Itata Valleys. Each wine is from a 1-2 hectare parcel in a different place: Bagual, Caliboro, Coelemu, Guarilihue, Loncomilla, Portezuelo, Puico, Ranquil, Sauzal, Truquilemu. GWCo. makes an old-vine Cab Franc (old bush head vines) and Cab Sauv blend in the Maule as well as two Cabs mountain-grown in the Maipo Valley. Pais and Cinsault are harvested in the Secano Interior, the cradle of the original Chilean viticulture in the Single Ferment Series.
DEREK MOSSMAN KNAPP
DR. ALVARO PEÑA
Secano Interior, Maule, Itata
Farming in the Secano Interior, the Maule and Itata valleys of Southern Chile, has been a way of life since Colonial times. Not just vineyards, but mixed farming of heritage seed wheat, free-range livestock and local market produce. Small-scale farms use dry-farming methods: turning over the earth to capture scarce seasonal rainwater, and nutrients from the clever use of seasonal cover-crops that in turn help sequester carbon from the air, and the use of horses to get into rows where tractors can’t reach.
This is where GWCo. works; too far from the comfort zone of those in the mainstream. These vineyards were neglected and relegated to bulk wine for decades because the booming market wanted branded varietals that didn’t command a price to support the work. For more than a decade GWCo. has worked these old vines, there has been a marked improvement both in vineyard health and quality of the fruit produced.
The marrying of the fieldcraft of these small-scale farmers with the lens of modern science and GWCo’s mindful winemaking took a decade, but the marriage has proven successful not just for GWCo, but also for the farmers, our suppliers and customers alike. Over the past few years, we have begun to rent and in some cases acquire the property underneath the old vines. Today one-third of our production is worked our way with our own people.
EMPEDRADO, MAULE VALLEY
"It is hard to imagine someone having the patience to plant a red vineyard in this part of Empedrado so long ago. It is very cool here. It must have taken forever for these vineyards to have come into their own. Thank god someone had the foresight to be patient all those years ago whilst the vineyard could grow old. Today the florality and complexity, the balance that only an aged vine can bring combine to create rare grace.
We make Cariñena in a half a dozen locations in the Secano Interior (the historic name for the dry-farmed interior of Maule & Itata) but ´Truqui´, as we call her, has been intriguing us with floral notes, the depth and plushness of its fruit, and the graceful way it ages for more than a decade now—and we are only just getting started.
We have rented this vineyard long-term and we work it old-school, originario, by hand and horse with the same patience and care that many generations of curators have shown these vines over the years." - GWCo
CALIBORO - MAULE VALLEY
Bagual Vineyard Garnacha Field Blend uses fruit from Caliboro in Maule in partnership with the Solar family. This vineyard is on the banks of the Perquilauquen river, a river that, very unusual for Chile, flows from the Coastal Mountains eastward towards the Andes Mountains, passing through Caliboro, bringing granitic silt with it. It sounds like magical surrealism, but it is one of two rivers in all of Chile that flow the wrong way. Because of its strange flood pattern proper bridges were never built in Caliboro, and the town (hamlet) became cut-off and lost in time. Here people live in the past, and keep traditions like dry-farming old vines alive.
Because of the granitic soils the wines in this area were for many years misunderstood. They had higher acid, more tension and a different structural feel and texture than the wines all around them. When you taste this Garnacha you will understand the uniqueness of the banks of the Perquilauquen—even if you will never remember how it is spelled!
LAS HIGUERAS VINEYARD
165 meters above sea level
GWCo has made Las Higueras Cab Franc since 2013. It was sourced from a corner of a larger 8 hectare vineyard of 1oo+ year old Cab Franc. In this particular corner the cables and posts of the rows had mostly fallen down (the owners had used these bits to repair the structure in the rest of the vineyard) As GWCo saw it, these two little hectares had returned to their natural state in nature ie old bush head vines! Old bush-head vine Cab Franc.
Four years ago GWCo entered into an agreement to rent the whole 8 hectares in a long-term deal. They brought in our dry-farming vignerons from Sauzal and Puico to help and have begun cultivating the vineyard the old way. The vineyard has responded well to what was a formidable pruning to recover and rebuild the old vines, but already we are seeing a re-birth.
DO Empedrado - Maule Valley
Grower / partner Nivaldo Morales and his wife Otelia cultivate this vineyard using traditional methods of hand and horse. The site is found on the Coastal Range of mountains (much older and slower to cool than the Andes). Soils are granitic and sub-soils have cracked granite that allow roots to get deep into cracks. Vineyard is on the sides of a gully and thus fresher due to less early morning and late afternoon sunshine.
SAN JUAN DE PIRQUE VINEYARD
950+ meters above sea level
"Before 2010 premium wine in Chile was thought to be Cabernet from the Maipo, and be made with great concentration, heavy extraction, new barrels-- and [very] ripe fruit. We had other ideas. Perhaps more importantly was what we did not have. We did not have money for barrels, we had no lesser wines to put any juice we might bleed to concentrate, and we were punching down manually as we had no pump to extract with…. … seeking better acidity we worked our way up from Puente Alto higher into the Maipo Valley and found that mountain-grown fruit was much more to our liking, our style and our budget. Our Cabernet always stood out.
Sadly, today this area is being developed into very expensive weekend homes and we shall one day lose the opportunity to work with this fruit." - GWCo
PIRQUE VINEYARD, MAIPO VALLEY
600 meters above sea level
"We began making Maipo Cabernet when we found this vineyard wanting to make a few barrels of Cab Franc to blend with the Cab Sauv. We loved it and 3 years later were able to bottle a pure Cab Franc when it seemed everyone told us you will never sell it. Our two Cab Francs are the first two wines to turn over vintage every year." - GWCo
Garage Wine Co categorizes their projects by aging time in barrel - either over two winters or one winter. Wines aged over two winters exhibit structure and finesse, while one winter wines are wildly expressive and fresh. Single Parcels and Vigno are aged for two winters, Single Ferment Series and Old-Vine Pale are aged for one winter.