With an initial investment of nearly US$5 million, it is the main research center of its kind in the region, and is aimed to be a benchmark for applied research worldwide.
A new major initiative from Viña Concha y Toro was announced with the opening of its newly established Center for Research and Innovation (CRI) in the Maule valley, Chile’s Seventh Region. This project was conceived to do applied research and develop new technologies in the areas of viticulture and enology, seeking to contribute to the development and competitiveness of Chile’s wine industry, for the benefit of all. This initiative represents an initial investment of US$5 million and its modern purpose-built modular facility of 16,150 square feet houses a laboratory with state-of-theart equipment, an experimental cellar, and tasting and extension rooms. The Center for Research and Innovation has a team of top researchers, who will conduct research in the areas of: genetic material, viticulture, winemaking processes, product design and market, which are part of the matrix defined in the R&D&i strategy of the CRI.
Through these guidelines it will be possible to quantify the economic and social impact of projects developed at the Center, and all information obtained will allow improving agricultural and enological processes by making them more efficient and sustainable over time.
“This project underscores Concha y Toro’s commitment to the long-term health and welfare of our countries’ wine industry. Our goal is to support enhancements in plant production, improving not only the quality of our vines, but also the performance of farmers and producers in the area; to integrate, adapt and develop new technologies and to provide greater analytical support in every sector: production, agriculture and winemaking. It has huge implications for our industry, and will lead to new and heightened standards of excellence and the enhanced ability to compete”, said Eduardo Guilisasti, CEO of Concha y Toro.
The project is eligible for the tax benefit under the R&D Tax Incentive Act of CORFO, which is an important incentive for investment in this area. Currently, the Center is working on two lines of research, and in the future new related projects will be added.
Also, through strategic alliances and agreements with prestigious institutions, the Center will have international networks that will allow it to promote activities, projects and programs to strengthen its work, establishing institutional contacts to develop joint projects, and other kinds of cooperation with related entities. Currently, the CRI has two existing agreements: with UC Davis (USA) for joint research, and with the Mercier Groupe, France’s largest vine producer, with whom Concha y Toro has a long-term technical assistance agreement since 2001.
Concha y Toro’s new Center for Research and Innovation represents a major commitment in terms of corporate social responsibility and community relations. At a local level, the CRI through its Extension Center and various training options, will share new knowledge and technologies that can be incorporated into winegrowing and winemaking practices, benefiting national wine industry as a whole.
“Today, Concha y Toro is in a position of leadership in the international industry, and from that position we wanted to contribute to the growth and development of the industry, carrying out a unique project of its kind. To do this, we will promote the dissemination of the results and good practices, so they can be adopted and implemented by the various actors involved in our industry”, said Gerard Casaubon, Director of the Center for Research and Innovation.
- Agricultural and Enological Laboratory: It features high-precision instruments, allowing the analysis of grapes and wines from a classical and instrumental approach. Its major equipment includes analytical and measuring instruments such as HPLCUFLC, GC/MS, ICP, OES and FT-IR, among others, which allow the study of polyphenols, aromas, volatile acidity, organic acids, metals, pesticides, wine health and innocuousness, among others. Among its facilities it includes units for molecular biology, foliar analysis, soil analysis, sensory analysis, and propagation of in vitro culture.
- Experimental Wine Cellar: Equipped with industrial technologies, this winery will allow winemaking at small scales, with the aim of analyzing and experimenting new ways of development for the viticulture of the company and the industry in general. This cellar has capacity for the vinification of about 200 tons of grapes. In its facilities there are 60 fermenters, with a total capacity of 1,000 kg of fruit, and 72 stainless steel tanks of 250-liter and 300-liter capacity, which feature automatic temperature control. It also includes 140 aging tanks -whose capacity varies between 50 and 100 liters of must each-, which are monitored in two rooms with automatic temperature control, used for malolactic fermentation and aging.
- Extension Center: Through its Extension area, the Center will have a building open to the community, serving as a space for conferences, workshops with experts and trainings, encouraging knowledge exchange among major players in the industry. This way, the Center will be a source of training and a permanent change agent through the promotion of research and development of key technologies for the sector. Its facilities include a modern auditorium, a tasting and sensory experimentation room, as well as meeting rooms.