Emily Faulconer has stepped into the role of Francisco Baettig, who is retiring as technical director in order to focus on his personal project, Vinos Baettig, but who will remain in a consultancy role with Viñedos Familia Chadwick.
Faulconer was most recently chief winemaker at Chile’s Viña Carmen, and has been replaced in that position by Ana María Cumsille.
Baettig: reflecting on two decades of great headway
There’s no doubting that Francisco Baettig has moved the dial of Chile’s wine industry during his 20 year tenure at Viñedos Familia Chadwick.
Since his first appointment as winemaker of Caliterra in 2003, he went onto oversee the entire portfolio – which includes Errázuriz, Viñedo Chadwick, Seña, Caliterra and Arboleda – and has been at the forefront of changing the style and reputation of Chile’s premium wines.
‘When I started, it was a very different situation in the wine industry in Chile,’ said Baettig.
‘The industry was largely focused on high volume wines, rather than high-end wines. In the past two decades, our focus shifted from volume to premium wines… and a focus on the viticulture and winemaking to understand the terroir and interpret place.’
Baettig played a fundamental role in the image of Chile’s premium wine styles, pushing away from the more opulent, ripe wines of the early 2000s towards more elegance and freshness.
He masterminded the development of the impressive Las Pizarras vineyard in Aconcagua Costa, which helped put premium Chilean Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on the map.
He said, ‘I believe the development of Las Pizarras was very important, it really helped change the perception and quality potential of these Burgundian varieties in Chile — opening the door to more balanced, linear and mineral wines with less oak.’
Baettig’s other great coup was obtaining the first perfect 100-point score for Chile — with Viñedo Chadwick in 2016. The Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon has gone on to receive several 100-point scores since, catapulting it into the fine wine stratosphere, along with Seña.
‘These recognitions were not only very important for me and for the team, but for Chile,’ Baettig said. ‘Chile needed to play in the big leagues and I am very happy and proud to have been part of this development.
‘The past 20 years have been an unbelievable journey — starting from a very different reality in Chile to today’s reality, in which the iconic wines from the group are among the best in the world.’
Eduardo Chadwick, owner of the family winery and group, paid tribute to Baettig’s work. ‘We are most thankful of Francisco’s contribution over his 20-plus years with us. He has led our team of viticulturists and winemakers with great skill, ensuring that our wines have become more elegant and refined over the years.
‘His winemaking approach has always been to bring a blend of passion, experience, boldness, and humility to his work. We are equally delighted that he will stay with us as our consultant in the future to continue mentoring our team as we strive ahead in our pursuit of excellence.’
Baettig will remain as a consultant for the foreseeable future, but will now have more time to focus on his own personal project, Vinos Baettig, which he started with business partner Carlos de Carlos over a decade ago planting vines in Traiguén, Malleco, in southern Chile.
Since launching the first 2018 vintage on the market during the pandemic in 2020, Vinos Baettig is now sold in 25 countries with a focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Traiguén, and most recently an old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon from Maule.
‘Vinos Baettig was my dream, and it really is my baby,’ he said. ‘It has been a very tough time in the wine industry in the past couple of years, but I’m very grateful that the Baettig wines are doing very well and I am thankful to those who trust and like the wines.
‘I hope to continue to contribute to Chile and the image of premium Chilean wine through Vinos Baettig, too.’
Faulconer: Taking on the mantle at Viñedos Familia Chadwick
Now assuming one of the most influential winemaker roles in the country, Faulconer’s hotly anticipated appointment as technical director sees her return to the group, following her time as chief winemaker of Arboleda from 2015 to 2017.
As well as overseeing the wines of the group as technical director, she will be chief winemaker for the top-tier Viñedo Chadwick and Seña wines.
‘Viñedos Familia Chadwick has been a real pioneer in creating a space for Chilean fine wines in the world, and it is an honour to rejoin the team and their legacy,’ said Faulconer.
‘We already know that we have really great terroir in Maipo and Aconcagua, but we are still relatively young as a fine wine country compared to Europe.
‘I am excited to be able to focus in great detail with such an ambitious and dedicated producer to work towards taking the wines to their very maximum terroir expression and potential.’
Faulconer’s impressive career to date has seen her work across Chile’s wine regions, from the country’s highest-altitude commercial vineyard at Viñedos de Alcohuaz through to the riverside vineyards and wines of Maquis in Colchagua.
Her most recent post, as chief winemaker for Carmen since 2017, gave her the opportunity to work with a diverse range of regions and valleys across Chile.
Faulconer brought notable accolades to the wines of Carmen, elevating Carmen Gold to become one of the most sought-after Cabernet Sauvignon wines of Maipo.
She also garnered much critical acclaim for her biologically aged, old-vine Semillon and Cinsault in the innovative Carmen DO range, and for launching the premium Delanz range.
‘We are also thrilled to have Emily back at Viñedos Familia Chadwick with special focus as head winemaker for Seña and Viñedo Chadwick,’ said Eduardo Chadwick.
‘She is brilliant, full of energy and passion to take on the mantle. She is also a great team leader and we are very confident she will take our wines to new levels of success.’
Within her team is Tomás Muñóz, chief winemaker of Viña Errázuriz, who was her former assistant winemaker at Carmen until joining Errázuriz in 2021; and Alberto Eckholl, chief winemaker of Viña Caliterra.
Cumsille: Taking on new challenges at Carmen
Replacing Faulconer at Carmen is Ana María Cumsille, whose expansive experience in Chilean wine has ranged from head winemaker of Indomita (1999 – 2001) in Casablanca to Altair (2002 – 2013) in Cachapoal, and more recently Viña Cucha Cucha (2015 – 2020) in Itata.
Since 2020, Cumsille has been concentrating on her eponymous personal project, working with small growers and old vines in Itata, which she will continue alongside managing Carmen.
‘I am really excited about my new position as Carmen brings together many of my winemaking experiences — giving me the opportunity to return to making premium wines, with wines like Carmen Gold and Delanz, but also keep working with small producers and in Itata with the DO range,’ Cumsille said.
‘I love the liberty and freedom to do different things that I have with Carmen, where my imagination can flourish. It will be a great challenge, but one I look forward to.’