Veramonte produces distinctive wines that are expressions of their origins. The winery is located in Casablanca, and the original vineyards were situated in a valley in Casablanca that when planted in the late 1990s was unknown to the wine industry. Veramonte follows organic practices throughout their estate, ensuring optimum conditions for vine growth and that the vineyards are sustainable over time. Living, balanced soil produces quality grapes that express the fullest potential of the terroir.
Veramonte cultivates healthy, living soils and maintains the natural ecosystem in the vineyards to ensure the best quality and a sustainable vineyard.
They use quality natural compost to maximize soils and promote the balance and self-regulation of the ecosystem. They use cover crops in between vineyard rows to improve soil structure, reduce erosion and fix nutrients. They also cultivate under the vines to promote healthy soils rich in microorganisms.
We had the chance to speak with Sofia Araya, Head Winemaker to talk about her experience of developing an organic winemaking practice with a keen understanding of the connection between soil and terroir.
Sofia Araya Interview
I would love to hear more about how you got started in the industry?
Sofía: It became really interesting to me all the transformation process that goes on through fermentation, it was amazing to me to witness how such huge things could happen with the action of such small beings (yeasts and bacterias), I started getting very much interested in microbiology, biochemistry and also the logistic and coordination required to accomplish all that. Kept me really entertained.
What is your experience as a woman in the winemaking industry?
Sofía: Sometimes [it} was hard to pass the fact that [winemaking] used to be a very masculine profession, I was usually working with male colleagues and there are aspects that as different genders we just see differently. I think we both are just as capable of making good wines, however, there are certain gender-related hues that have been harder to conciliate, like family projects (becoming parents and harvest is very hard to balance), salary differences, or leading male countryside workers used to be harder. But fortunately, this has changed so much in the last – I would say – 10 years that more often you see women in charge of great projects and leading them with just as much capability as any other professional, parenting is also becoming a 50-50 task within couples, people [are] much more aware that is not ok to think less of a woman just because of her gender, we deserve just the same respect, salary and possibilities and the wine industry, in my opinion, has definitely shown that change.
What drew you to growing with organic methods? How did you first learn of it? Was there anything that surprised you by it?
Sofía: I have always had the conviction that we need to look at our existence in a more holistic way, we as human beings are not isolated, we live within an ecosystem that is absolutely connected with each one of us and we are not only influenced by it, but we have also been modified by it. We have developed our human nature by it. But it’s also the other way around, as [we have been] developing as humans and gaining tools, we have been modulating and influencing the ecosystem. The problem is that we see the ecosystem as if it is serving us, not as part of us. Losing that holistic perspective has [taken] our environment to the point that it is now. To me, it was first important to make wines that actually showed where they were being developed to honor the vineyards and their unique surroundings. Secondly to be conscious of the problems that we have to face and try our best to be part of the solution, be respectful of nature, and make a sustainable project in every way or aspect of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic.
In 2012 Rodrigo Soto our previous head winemaker lead us into organic farming and I was thrilled to be part of the process of taking that philosophy also to the winery, later on, the entire team became committed to this practice. It started making sense and we were all witnessing the changes at the vineyards, we have learned from different people, consultants, and colleagues, through experience, from each other, and from looking and connecting to the vineyards. It has been a wonderful learning process for everyone at Viñedos Veramonte.
Do you notice a difference between organic and conventional methods?
Sofía: Absolutely, there’s resilience in the vineyards, there’s balance and consistency in the quality.
What do you hope for the future of winemaking and/or the future of organic/soil positive farming?
Sofía: I hope more people [turn to] sustainable practices, even better if organic or regenerative. I just hope for a long-term view of winemaking and farming, [being] connected to what’s our environment, our people, and the uniqueness of each project.
To learn more about Veramonte and to purchase their wine, visit their website here.