Concha y Toro

Concha y Toro 17/02/2013

Concha y Toro’s vineyards today (part 4): February

While the vineyards of Pirque and Casablanca have faced unstable weather conditions during the summer, the necessary measures were taken.


While the vineyards of Pirque and Casablanca have faced unstable weather conditions during the summer, the necessary measures were taken so that today the grapes are in perfect condition and presage a successful 2013 harvest.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Pirque Viejo Vineyard, Maipo Valley

Block 5, row 25, clear 3, vine 2


Today is Monday, February 18, in the Maipo valley. The vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon in Pirque, which we have been following closely in pictures since last October, have a fully-developed canopy and the growth of the leaves is now detained. Most of the grape bunches are therefore seen with 100% of their color, of an intense blue, and with a growth that is close to the final size at the time of harvesting.


Due to the weather conditions (rains in December) the growth of the canopy increased and this meant a delay in plant development, i.e. the present state of 100% coloring was delayed by a week and a half.

The water needs of the plant are high at this time and the agricultural work in the vineyard is focused on de-leaving work (about 60% of the bunches have been uncovered from leaves) in order to give bunches a greater exposure to the sunlight and illumination, which avoids green flavors in the grapes.

The manual thinning of bunches is also undertaken at this time, if they exceed those programmed kilos per hectare, which is not the case in this vineyard.


With respect to the health of the vineyard, we can say that it is adequate, the main concern being to prevent the appearance of botrytis due to changing climatic conditions. However, this is unlikely in vineyards like these as they are well ventilated and have a thin canopy, which generates a suitable microclimate for the cluster and the proper exposure to light.


The necessary products have also been applied to prevent diseases deriving from isolated rainfalls and lower temperatures, all products that are environmentally friendly.

These grapes belong to the Cabernet Sauvignon variety and are of premium aptitude. According to the plan, between 16 and 18 bunches will be picked from each plant and, considering an average weight per bunch of 100 grs., it is expected to obtain a  production of around 10 tons per hectare.

The harvest will begin on April 5 approximately and, in the words of the agriculture manager of the Maipo Valley vineyard, the agronomist Eduardo Alcayaga Barraza, “the agricultural work has been carried out quite normally so far. Despite the difficult weather conditions that have characterized this year, there have been no major problems and we expect the vines to continue their final development before their successful harvest”.

Sauvignon Blanc, El Triángulo Vineyard, Casablanca Valley

Block 18, row 24, vine 13

February arrived and with it the sun of Casablanca valley. Following a cloudy January with little light and solar warmth, the coloring process was delayed for the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay vines of this estate.

However, the good weather of the last weeks has given renewed strength to the bunches, initiating a race to reach maturity.


On Tuesday, February 12, the Sauvignon Blanc vines are fully in their coloring stage. i.e. the period of ripening during which the grapes pass from an intense green color to a pale yellow (or a bluish red in the case of the reds). In this stage the bunches are full of juice and the sugars are beginning to concentrate.


Due to the constant presence of the meteorological phenomenon called “coastal valley floor” in the central zone of Chile, there was a delay in the coloring or ripening process of the grapes in Casablanca during January. Normally starting around January 15, this year the ripening of the Sauvignon Blanc began ten days later. “We are currently in an intermediate and unstable process between the climatic phenomena called “El Niño” and “La Niña”, due to which there have been very marked climate changes. The presence of the “coastal valley floor” weather for 25 of the 30 days of January reflected this phenomenon, preventing the grapes from receiving the necessary light and solar warmth to start the ripening at the usual time”, explains the administrator of the Casablanca estate.

However, and thanks to the good weather in the valley during the first two weeks of February, the grapes have now firmly begun their race to maturity, with 50% coloring to date.

Today (12/02/2013), the grapes have reached a maximum size of about 12 cm and the grains have acquired a clear green color, are full of their juices and have an acid flavor.

From now on, as the coloring process progresses and the necessary sugars are accumulating for the harvests, the clear green color will gradually take on a more yellow color and the acidity will become sweeter every day.

The average summer temperatures in the Casablanca valley are 26°C maximum and 3° to 4°C minimum. However, it is common in Casablanca for the day to open with a coastal mist and a little drizzle, which is a factor that must be constantly watched to avoid the risk of botrytis or rotting of the bunches. “To control and prevent botrytis we use organic fungicides that are environmentally friendly, which present no risk to the preparation of the wine or the environment”.


The shoots of Sauvignon Blanc reach 1.20 meters. During last month, only a superficial and very soft de-leafing was carried out manually.

The ripening process itself is forecasted to be complete in the week of February 18 to 22, when the change of color of the grains stops and the sugars begin to concentrate and the brix grades to rise, which are essential for the harvest.


The El Triángulo Sauvignon Blanc vineyard should be ready for its harvest between March 15 and 20, i.e. ten days later than in other years due to the above-mentioned climatic factors. However, blocks 18, 19 and 20 will be the last to be harvested as they are in the coldest part of the estate so their fruit is that which ripens latest. The harvest in Casablanca lasts for a month and a half approximately.

In terms of yields in the 2013 harvest, it is expected to obtain between 12 and 14 thousand kilos of grapes per hectare of Sauvignon Blanc, which will be used in the preparation of the premium line Casillero del Diablo.

Chardonnay, Los Perales Vineyard, Casablanca Valley

Block 8, row 436, vine 4


Today (12/02/2013) this vine is 35 – 40% colored. Due to the low temperatures and weak sunlight in January, the ripening of this vine started late, commencing only between January 25 and 28.

The Chardonnay shoots are approximately 1.10 meters high, a little shorter than those of Sauvignon Blanc. The bunches of the former also measure about 8 cm, i.e. notoriously smaller than the second.

This is because the spring temperatures strongly influence the firming of the Chardonnay bunches which, being lower this year, made the grains slightly smaller than on other occasions.

In any case, the Chardonnay by nature produces grains and bunches that are smaller than the Sauvignon Blanc. With respect to the vineyard work, a manual de-leaving has recently been done, more intensely than with the Sauvignon Blanc as the Chardonnay produces more leaves and the winemaker prefers that the fruit remains open to the sunlight.

The ripening process of the Chardonnay is expected to last until February 25 by when the bunches will have yellow color, and then the sugars will begin to be concentrated in the grains until the harvest.

Between the ripening and the harvest, both the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc have to be monitored to prevent the appearance of botrytis by the application of environmentally-friendly products. Regarding the weather conditions, the last frosts in Casablanca were in late November.

Although the Los Perales vineyard has a slightly higher temperature than El Triángulo, the Chardonnay is a later-ripening variety than Sauvignon Blanc. Its harvest should therefore begin around April 1, i.e. some 15 days later than the Sauvignon Blanc. This is because the winemaker of the Casillero del Diablo line seeks a higher concentration of brix grades in the Chardonnay, so the grapes have to remain on the vine longer. By the time of harvesting, the Chardonnay grains will be quite a lot sweeter than those of Sauvignon Blanc.


With respect to the yields of the 2013 harvest, it is expected to obtain between 10 and 12 thousand kilos of grapes per hectare of Chardonnay, which will be used in the preparation of the Casillero del Diablo line.