January 7, 1883: Don Silvestre Ochagavia Errazuriz died in Chile. He was an industrialist, agriculturalist and businessman who had visited France in the mid-nineteenth century to study grape varietals and viticulture techniques there. He then brought those techniques and grape varietals which he had gathered from the Bordeaux region such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Semillon back to Chile. Armed with this expertise and vine cuttings, in 1851 Errazuriz founded the Vina Ochagavia winery in Macul near Santiago. His winery influenced the development of the Chilean wine industry in a French direction, rather than mimicking Spanish practices, and remains one of Chile’s most significant wineries to this day, over 170 years later. Moreover, Errazuriz’s timing could not have been better. Shortly after he left France the region was afflicted by the phylloxera epidemic, which decimated the French wine industry from the 1860s onwards. In this environment New World wineries such as those established by Errazuriz were able to flourish internationally in the last decades of the nineteenth century. For more information, see Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine (Oxford, 2006), pp. 163–167.
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