03 July, 2017

But why kick off with what is generally regarded as one of the most difficult grape varieties to cultivate?

“It was first planted in Chile in 1968 at Santa Elisa,” explains Hurtado. “We bought the estate and there was a block of Pinot Noir. We started to work it, develop it. Cono Sur now produces six million bottles of Pinot Noir and we are the largest producer of Pinot in the world.”


Having scored so many goals already, one wonders what the unassuming Hurtado has left? He says Cono Sur has “three pillars: quality, innovation and sustainability”.

From a broader Chilean perspective, he feels strongly that Chile needs to “trade up” from its burdensome image of making cheap and cheerful wines. Well known master of wine Tim Atkin, a fan of Chilean winemaking, recently remarked at a tutored tasting of some of Argentina’s best wines that top Chilean wines do not go for great prices. Yet Chilean wines, which are just as good, cannot get near the prices for Argentinian icon wines.

This clearly incenses Hurtado. His personal professional ambition is for Cono Sur to be the “Penfolds or Villa Maria of Chile” (the flagship brands of Australia and New Zealand respectively).


So why call your entry-level wine ‘bicicleta’? Hurtado’s response is: “The icon of Cono Sur’s entry-level Pinot Noir is the bicycle and we’ve become recognised for it, but this wasn’t created by me or some clever team of marketers. When we first started Cono Sur, the bicycle was just the way our workers travelled across the vineyards to tend the vines, avoiding unnecessary pollutants and keeping it traditional and with a human touch.

“To this day it’s still the same and the bike now stands to represent not just the winery but also our philosophy of a more natural approach to winemaking. All this aside, I also believe in the phrase ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get’,” he says.

And what happens to be the man’s favourite pastime? You guessed it – cycling. Mountain biking to be precise. Every Sunday when he isn’t travelling or making wine he is out on his Scott mountain bike. Indoors, he does spinning classes. To be fair, he also likes running and being on the beach with his family.

Cono Sur or connoisseur – the words are interchangeable for Adolfo Hurtado.

By the way, the brand is now the official wine of the Tour de France.

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


Tess Posthumus

Staffing crisis could open opportunities

The pandemic has thrown many challenges at bar owners over the past couple of years and the ones that survived the various lockdowns and restrictions deserve a pat on the back. However, while revenues are returning and bars are beginning to recruit once more, we’ve come up against a whole new set of problems, one of which is a global starring crisis.