Another Chilean wine produced for that upscale export market is Los Vascos, now partly owned by the famous French winery Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. And a new boutique winery named Discovery Wine is successfully exporting high-quality wines under its Montes and Villa Montes labels to the United States and Britain.
Douglas Murray, an Anglo-Chilean wine exporter, is one of Discovery's four owners and its export manager. He said the winery began exporting in mid-1989 and shipped 34,000 cases in 1990.
"This year, we expect to reach 50,000 cases," Murray said. But he said he wants to limit production to 60,000 cases, "aiming at better quality more and more, and getting better prices."
The idea for starting Discovery Wines came from partner Aurelio Montes, who previously has been chief winemaker for two larger wineries, Undurraga and San Pedro. At San Pedro, Montes made a premium wine, Castillo de Molina, that was successfully exported to France in 1985.
Murray was export manager for San Pedro when he and Montes organized the four-way partnership.
"He talked me into it, and we both went to see the other two," Murray recalled. "It had become evident in the past few years that prices for better wines were becoming much more interesting."
He said that while big Chilean wineries can offer good value for price, they are more interested in volume than in the top-quality export market.
"It is very hard to aim and stay aimed at that market in the States because you get pressure from marketers to lower prices, lower standards, lower quality," Murray said.
In the past, lesser booms for Chilean wine exports ended when some exporters shipped notably inferior wines, attempting to capitalize on Chile's blossoming reputation--and spoiling it in the process. That is a danger today, warned winemaker Jiusan of Errazuriz.
"Any false step, any error, can hurt us all," he said.