Viviana Navarrete Is On a Mission to Produce Chile’s Best Cool-Climate Wines

Viviana Navarrette
Illustration by Barbara Spurll
Wine Enthusiast Advocacy Issue Logo

After studying agricultural sciences at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Navarrete began working with Concha y Toro in 2001, where she fell in love with Sauvignon Blanc.

In 2007, attracted to the coastal terroir of the Leyda Valley, she became chief winemaker at Viña Leyda, part of the VSPT Wine Group. Her mission? To make the best cool-climate wines in Chile.

Along with Sauvignon Blanc, Navarrete is known for her fragrant Pinot Noirs as well as Chardonnay.

She’s also in charge of Viña San Pedro’s fledgling project to produce Pinot Noir in Malleco, about 400 miles south of Leyda. Navarrete calls this the Buchahueico Project, and she works closely with the native Mapuche community to produce a style of cool-climate Pinot that’s different than those from Leyda.

Why did you want to become a winemaker?

I chose winemaking back in 2001 because a lot of interesting things were happening in our industry. New cooler-climate regions were being discovered, giving birth to new styles of wines.

It was also the time period when Chilean wineries began investing in high-quality plantings and better technology in the cellars.

Factoring into my decision was the fact that agronomy in Chile was a very male thing. Winemaking seemed like the one area where a woman could find opportunities. Nobody in my family is related to the wine business, so this is my own path.

What is your proudest achievement?

I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in Leyda, one of the most fascinating and interesting valleys in Chile, and the wines we craft have gotten good recognition in Chile and around the world. So I could say that every time our wines get an important award, it fills my heart with pride. Recognition is important to me, even more if it comes from abroad. It proves that our winemaking philosophy is being recognized and valued by people that love wine.

What was the most surprising experience or encounter you’ve had as a female winemaker?

I would say that it has been the evolution of the woman’s role in the wine business. When I started working in this industry, there were just a few women working as chief winemakers in Chile.

But today, I can happily see how women have gained ground. Now you see many of us working in the commercial area, in quality control, in marketing and communications, laboratories, etc.

What is your advice to someone interested in entering the wine business?

The wine business is all about passion, about culture, about meeting people and enjoying wine. You will never stop learning, and that is one of the best things about this industry.

Published on February 19, 2020
Topics: Advocacy