Bloque Herencia was established in 2011 and with it began a relationship of mutual support between Santa Carolina and UC Davis in the U.S. Andrew Walker, a PhD, geneticist and professor of viticulture and enology, has been an advisor to this project since its onset and has seen it evolve.
In June, Walker came back to Chile after two years. He had the chance to visit Bloque Herencia and to learn about the second stage in Cauquenes. His impression was very positive, as he expressed “it’s looking good, very well developed. I had never seen this type of project at a private scale. There are several collections in the world, but all of them are backed by public institutions. This project is unique in the world. I believe that is a great advantage and it should be put to good use.”
Walker also commented: “this is a major historical and viticultural effort. A great contribution to Chile and to history. It is a living library. There are similar initiatives, but they are rare: Ensenada in Mexico, Davis in California and Geneva in New York are some of the collections found in America. There are foundational plant material collections in most European wine producing countries, but none has the same objective as Bloque Herencia.”
For Walker, the next steps are to continue to gather the largest possible collection of old grapevine material from different vintners and valleys in the country. The following step is understanding how varieties behave in their various developmental stages to be able to characterize 100% of the project.
WHAT IS BLOQUE HERENCIA?
Bloque Herencia is a 3.5-hectare vineyard –2 of which are situated in Totihue, Cachapoal valley and the remainder 1.5 hectares are found in Cauquenes, Maule valley– that consists of ancient grapevines from all the Chilean wine valleys. The purpose of this project is to recover pre-phylloxera vine material, mostly from our own traceable vineyards to enhance the diversity of the project components and produce more consistent and complex wines.
To date, over 85 selections have been identified based on ampelography and DNA analysis. Five of those selections had never been included in the databases of any gene bank in the world.