Natural & Organic Vineyard Management with Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery’s Max Erlwein

June 8, 2015

 
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green Is Good. This is the Green Festival’s edition of Green is Good. We have Cono Sur Vineyards and Winery on. We’ve got Max Erlwein on with us. He is the USA Brand Ambassador of Cono Sur. We have a sample right here of Cono Sur Beers and Wines, a bottle of their great wine from Chile. Welcome to Green is Good, Max. MAX ERLWEIN: Thank you. Thank you for the invitation. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Absolutely. You know, Max, before we get talking about your great brand, Cono Sur, talk a little bit about your own journey. Before we started taping, you were fascinating me with your education history and the fact that you grew up in Santiago, Chile. MAX ERLWEIN: Yes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Talk a little bit with our audience about being a Brand Ambassador and the great education that you have and why they chose you to send you here. MAX ERLWEIN: I think that they chose me because I’m a winemaker by profession, you know. JOHN SHEGERIAN: A winologist, really? MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. In Chile, if you want to be a winemaker, first you have to be in ergonomics. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Ergonomics? MAX ERLWEIN: That is my background. I spent six years studying ergonomics, agriculture and engineering. Then, you took a specialization of winemaking. They needed someone to communicate things, you know. My job here is I’m not a sales guy. I came here just to communicate the things that we do in Chile, the things that we do in Cono Sur, helping the sales people because sometimes the reps from all over the country they have so many runs that they don’t know about the specific things about Cono Sur. There is no one better to explain those things than a winemaker. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I mean you’re really an expert. So, they sent an expert. MAX ERLWEIN: You’re always learning. I’m not an expert. Of course, there are people way better then i, but in terms of the Chilean wines and the Chilean characteristics of the wines, I can do some. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You can talk the talk. You can talk the vernacular with the sommeliers and the restaurateurs across America. You can really deliver the information that they need. MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. There is nothing better than being communicated, again, from a winemaker. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s brilliant. MAX ERLWEIN: Because it is very different. For example, in saying, “This is a wine from Chile. It’s good and it costs X. Besides these wines from Chile from the Valley of Coachella. It’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc. For making this wine we use this kind of technique, blah, blah, blah.” How do I know? Because I made it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You made it. MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s perfect. For our audience out there that wants to see how to buy and where to fine Cono Sur Wines, you can go to their great website, www.vineyardbrands.com. MAX ERLWEIN: That’s my importer. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s very important. Before we get talking about the nuts and bolts of the wine, tell us a little bit about your blogger competition. MAX ERLWEIN: The blogger competition is a competition that we started in the U.K. The bloggers post some recipes, like vegetarian recipes, sometimes vegan recipes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That can match up with your wines? MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly and they receive some incentives. Sometimes they have special trips. Sometimes they have special events. It’s a kind of thing, at least in Europe, and this is going to be the first year that we’re going to release in the U.S. JOHN SHEGERIAN: In the U.S.? MAX ERLWEIN: Yes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, for the bloggers out there in the U.S. that love eating sustainable foods but want to match them with sustainable wine, you’ve got to go to their website, www.conosur.com or www.vineyardbrands.com. MAX ERLWEIN: www.vineyardbrands.com goes directly to www.conosur.com. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Perfect. It’s coming to U.S.A this year? MAX ERLWEIN: Yes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For the bloggers in the U.S.A.? MAX ERLWEIN: This is the first year, yes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wonderful. Talk a little bit about how sustainable your brand is through their DNA. Let’s talk a little bit about growing the grapes and then take us through growing, harvesting, and delivery of the wines. MAX ERLWEIN: We cover the whole process. First of all, 25 percent of the production of Cono Sur is 75 organic. We have BCS certification, which is a German certification. Only 75 percent. The rest, in theory, is the vineyard management, which is a sustainable certification. Cono Sur does not make regular management any more. That means that in the organic management we’re not allowed to put any kind of chemical controls such as herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, nothing. Nothing kind of cides. Plus, we’re not allowed to put any kind of synthetic nutrients such as [4:42 inaudible], all those kind of nutrients that are so common in the regular agriculture. We are not allowed to put it in the soil in the vineyards. That’s the viticulture part. Also, we have around 11 different certifications from different concepts. One thing is the organic thing and the other one is the process. In all of our processes, we measure all the carbon footprint from the picking, actually from the farming to the delivery. We measure all CO2 emissions. We identify the part of the process that produces more CO2 and we reduce it. The things that we can reduce we compensate it by carbon neutral delivery certification. We we’re the first vineyard in the world to get the carbon neutral delivery certification. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What does that mean? MAX ERLWEIN: That means that all the CO2 emissions that we produce from the shipping from the trucks and the vessel – JOHN SHEGERIAN: You offset it. MAX ERLWEIN: We compensate it by green monitors. As an example, Chile is the most southern country in the world. Just one shipment from Chile to China sometimes could take one month to one month and a half in vessels. All the CO2 emissions that the delivery produces that we cannot control, we compensate it. So, all these wines, particularly this one, it is 100 percent organically grown grape wine. It’s an eco-glass of a bottle. That means a lighter bottle. We recycle the labels and also it has no CO2 emissions. You’re not going to find something similar from Chile. At least from Chile, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to find similar. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I haven’t heard of this anywhere. MAX ERLWEIN: For me as a winemaker, it’s a technical area. It’s quite hard to make this wine even greener. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You can’t think of it. MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Scientifically. So the bottle is even -? MAX ERLWEIN: We use eco-glass with bubbles. JOHN SHEGERIAN: This is recycled paper for the labels. MAX ERLWEIN: And from the cases also. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. MAX ERLWEIN: We have the oldest certifications, CEMARS, carbon neutral delivery, BCS. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Talk a little bit about some of the awards you won. You won Green Company of the Year in 2011. Who gave you that award? MAX ERLWEIN: It was The Drinks Business magazine in U.K. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Really? MAX ERLWEIN: Yes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. In the USA, for our listeners… We have listeners and audience viewers around the world, though, where can people find your wonderful and delicious wines? MAX ERLWEIN: We are working with Vineyard Events, which is our partner and importer. Vineyard Events has a presence all over the country. There are a few states that they do not have a presence, but actually, it is all over the country. This one should be available from the West Coast to the East Coast, all over. JOHN SHEGERIAN: In wine stores or great restaurants? MAX ERLWEIN: In wine store, restaurants, and sometimes depending on the state, in some supermarkets and grocery stores. Here in New York we’re not allowed to sell it in the supermarkets, right? JOHN SHEGERIAN: Right, right, right. MAX ERLWEIN: But in other states, you can find it in Whole Foods. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Does the Cono Sur brand, Max, do what they did with you in the United States? Do they send other oenologists that help work on their brand to U.K. or other countries in the world? MAX ERLWEIN: Actually, no. I’m the only one. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You’re the only one. MAX ERLWEIN: I’m the only one. But, no, I have to say I’m not the only Chilean who lives outside of Chile. For the Asian market, for example, we have two Chilean people living in Shanghai. For the U.K. market, we have one guy living in U.K. and I’m living in the States. For the European market, we hired five French people. We’re a Chilean winery who hired French people to sell wine. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Equal opportunity. MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, you’re big in France, U.K.? MAX ERLWEIN: No, no, no. We’re not big in France. We’re big in certain destinations. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Tell us where. MAX ERLWEIN: We’re big in U.K. JOHN SHEGERIAN: U.K. MAX ERLWEIN: Canada. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Canada. MAX ERLWEIN: Japan. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Really? MAX ERLWEIN: And here. The most important thing this year is to focus on the U.S. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How about China? You mentioned two reps in Shanghai. Is it growing in Shanghai? Is it growing in China? MAX ERLWEIN: The people who live in Shanghai have taken over the Asian market. In China, we’re doing some stuff where we are starting to grow. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Start small and you’re going to start the process now. MAX ERLWEIN: But, I have to say that in terms of the organic management and in terms of the sustainable thing, I’m quite impressed about how the U.S. has started giving a more important— JOHN SHEGERIAN: To sustainability. MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Finally catching up here. MAX ERLWEIN: Yes, I have to say that. I am impressed. JOHN SHEGERIAN: This is a Cabernet Sauvignon that you brought. MAX ERLWEIN: Actually, it’s a red blend. It’s 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 40 percent Cabernet from [9:29 inaudible] in Chile. [9:30 inaudible] means we use different appellations. Actually, in this case, we use a big percentage of Colchagua, but also we use grapes from Limari, a little bit, Cachopoal, and Maule, different valleys in Chile. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So what would this be? Would this be dry or on the sweet side or what is this? MAX ERLWEIN: No, this is a dry, red blend. JOHN SHEGERIAN: A dry, red blend. MAX ERLWEIN: We don’t make sweet. It’s a dry, red blend. I really like this one because it’s kind of a young style wine. That means it’s quite easy to recognize the main characteristic of the variety; the fruity of [10:08 inaudible] Sauvignon, the black peppers Santilogo from Carminel. It’s a nice acidity, nice minerality, and nice touch of oak. It spends one year in a barrel. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Really? MAX ERLWEIN: Yes, second use, French oak [10:20 inaudible]. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What other organic wines do you have besides this wonderful wine? How wide is your selection? MAX ERLWEIN: We have four varieties. This is our red blend. This is the only blend that Cono Sur Winery makes because in Chile, if you want to call a wine like a Cabernet, you have to put at least 85 percent. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I gotcha. MAX ERLWEIN: So, this is less than 95 so we can’t call it that. It’s a red blend, which I like it that way. We like it that way. We also make a Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. JOHN SHEGERIAN: These four? MAX ELWEIN: Yes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Part of your organic line. Are they all here in America now? MAX ERLWEIN: They’re all here in America. Also, there are the other ones like [11:04 inaudible] we draw bicycles. For us bicycle is our— JOHN SHEGERIAN: What does that mean? MAX ERLWEIN: Our center is located in Chimbarongo, which is a small town two hours south from Santiago. For example, the workers wake up in the morning. They take their bike to go to the center to work in the pruning and the harvest, in the picking or even in the cellars too. It’s a way to honor our workers because sometimes the winemaker is the rock star and the winemaker, but nobody cares about the workers. Actually, those guys have a really hard job and they do a really good job. So, it’s a way to give the workers recognition. We put the bicycles— JOHN SHEGERIAN: To honor them. MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. JOHN SHEGERIAN: To show that this is an effort of everybody from the ground up. MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. The bicycle, where we see that, represents the commitment that Cono Sur has with them [inaudible 12:01] like Green Company of the Year, one of the Top 10 Most Admired Brands and representing a commitment that we have with them. The third reason, Cono Sur is a kind of young company ran by young-spirited people. For us a bicycle is something fun and something simple that everybody can do. You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to own your own chateau, whatever. JOHN SHEGERIAN: It’s very democratized. MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. So, it’s something that everybody can do and it’s inclusive. It’s integrated. That’s why we put the bicycles on. So far, it has been a huge success. If you go to our seller in Chimbarongo in Chile, instead of us putting you in a Mercedes van or in a copter, we’re going to put you on a bike. JOHNS SHERERIAN: That’s nice. MAX ERLWEIN: I’ve seen this from the CEOs and Presidents of big brands and we put them on bikes and they are happy riding bikes into the vineyard and they love it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: It’s probably one of the best experiences of their life. MAX WELWEIN: For foreign people, you don’t have too many chances to ride bikes in a vineyard in Chile, so it’s a good experience. JOHN SHEGERIAN: We’re down to the last minute and a half, Max. Any last thoughts you want to share with our audience and our listeners and our viewers about your beautiful wine, Cono Sur? MAX ERLWEIN: First of all, thank you for the support that you guys have given to us. JOHN SHERGERIAN: Absolutely. MAX ERLWEIN: We’re really happy to be here. This wine has a lot of good attributes. It’s not just organic. It’s carbon neutral. This year, in the wine spectator season, this same wine but the harvest of 2011, was chosen number 44 in the world. They have 200— JOHN SHEGERIAN: This one right here in front of us? MAX ERLWEIN: Yes, in 2011. JOHN SHEGERIAN: 2011. Wow. MAX ERLWEIN: Besides the findings of organic and sustainable and no CO2 emissions, it’s one of the best wines in the world in at least the 2011 harvest. We’re talking about here something which is affordable, clean, and with a really good quality. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And it’s actually great quality and it’s good for you. MAX ERLWEIN: Exactly. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You’ve had it today. This is the first time we’ve ever had the actual winemaker himself. Max, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an honor to have you on and to have Cono Sur on. For the bloggers out there that want to join the new competition with their four organic wines, please go to www.vineyardbrands.com to learn more about Cono Sur or learn more about their blogger competition or join it. Please go now. I’ve got to tell you this, you are a rock star, a sustainability rock star, and truly living proof that green is good. Thank you so much Max. MAX ERLWEIN: Thank you so much. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Thank you.