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Santa Rita plans expansion in Chile’s Pumanque appellation

Santa Rita Estates is looking to plant more vines in Chile's Pumanque appellation, citing it as one of the country's most exciting up-and-coming wine areas.

Pumanque, located in Colchagua Valley, became a Denomination of Origin in September 2012, confirming its status as a rising star in Chilean wine.

Since first planting there in 2007, Santa Rita Estates has invested US$20m in the vineyards.

‘600 hectares (ha) are planted and we will probably plant another 200ha,’ said Sebastian Warnier, Santa Rita’s head of viticulture for Chile. The company already owns 1,200ha of land in Pumanque, he told decanter.com.

Among other Chilean producers, only Mont Gras and Luis Philippe Edwards also own land in Pumanque at present.

‘When we began planting, we did many tests and they showed the soil to be consistently excellent – there is lots of granitic soil. It’s a new terroir,’ said Warnier. ‘The vines are still young but the quality of the reds is fantastic – especially Cabernet Franc.’

Sebastian Labbé, winemaker for Santa Rita’s Carmen brand, told decanter.com, ‘not many people are doing Cabernet Franc in Chile. I think it is a grape variety that will add something to Chile as a whole.’

The company currently has 110ha of Cabernet Franc in Pumanque and plans to plant more. Other varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, as well as some Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

In the short-term, Santa Rita will use quality fruit from Pumanque to relaunch its Floresta range in the UK at around GBP20-a-bottle, after a three-to-four year absence. Floresta is a limited edition bottling only produced during outstanding vintages.

Written by Lucy Britner in Chile

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