He's an award-winning specialist of Chilean red wines with a sustainable side
Cristián Vallejo has made wine all over the world, from Napa to Spain to Italy — he even did a stint at Bordeaux’s iconic Château Margaux. Now he champions Cachapoal Valley — specifically the Millahue subregion — one of Chile’s up and coming areas for elegant, world-class Cabernet.
Combining elements of organic, biodynamic and natural winemaking, Cristián crafts bold, signature reds that have won accolades like “Best Chilean Wine” at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Now your funding helps him channel his lifetime of expertise into his own signature versions of Chile’s hallmark red wines. And for supporting Cristián to share his favorite Chilean reds with everyday wine drinkers, the rewards are yours to savor!
Cristián Vallejo's Story
Hold on tight, Angels. We’re bringing you un artista!
When we asked him how he fell in love with wine, he said (and we’re sure it would have been even more poetic in his native Spanish):
“In my family, wine has always been present as part of the culture of the table, but I fell in love with wine when I realized that it is the expression of the terroir interpreted by mankind. It becomes a Poem of the Nature!”
He can wax poetic about it for ages, and somehow, coming from him, it doesn’t seem cheesy at all. When he says “if wine is art, it is the only one with two authors” and proceeds to espouse his appreciation for Mother Nature, we nod vigorously as if nothing truer has ever been said.
Cristián started carving out space for himself in the wine world shortly after graduating from an agriculture and winemaking program in Chile. His first job with Viña Undurraga (one of the oldest wineries in Chile’s Maipo Valley) quickly segued into a more senior position at Viña Valdivieso (the first sparkling house in South America). While at Valdivieso, he met the Canepa family who offered him a unique opportunity with a winery called Viña TerraMater. He stayed with the winery for ten years because the Canepa family considered it an investment to help Cristián pursue understanding wine on a global scale.
During the off-seasons, the family sent him to the Northern hemisphere to work harvest with premier producers — like the famous Château Margaux — and learn about global winemaking techniques and cultures. He spent time in four countries, learned different things at each, and after every harvest abroad, he harnessed his new understanding to make the best wines he could.
“Wine for me is my passion because it puts me in contact with nature and helps me to meet amazing cultures and people from where I learn a lot. It also makes me make amazing friends all around the world....I will love to see them more often!”
What He Learned
In France, he spent three harvests on the Left Bank of Bordeaux and one on the Right, learning from the best of the best: Château Margaux, Château Leoville-Poyferre, Château Le Crock Saint-Estèphe, and Château Berliquet. During these harvests, he experienced the importance of the vineyard, and learned how to influence the structure of a wine.
In Italy, he learned how to bring out and preserve aromatics — red fruit, stone fruit, white flowers, violets — by working with La Cantina di Toblino in the Valle dei Laghi, Trentino Alto Adige.
In Spain, he worked with Clos Montblanc in Catalonia, and for a teeny producer in Priorat. Both helped him understand small-scale, pre-industrial winemaking without any fancy tricks or equipment.
Then, to get his fill of fancy tricks and equipment, he worked with Franciscan Winery in Napa — he even brought some equipment back to Chile, which he still uses to this day!
Beyond the walls of these famed wineries, the biggest take away from these trips was in contrast with his native Chile. He noticed that everyone in these regions drank wine, young people included, and brought bottles and their stories to every social occasion. It was exciting, the wine was alive!
“[In these regions], wine is part of culture, part of life, I saw wine in every moment!”
Wanting to foster this culture around wine close to home, he applied what he learned to make some truly world class Chilean wines.
It wasn’t long before his wines caught the attention of Alexander Vik, who was looking to create a Chilean winery that could rival the best in the world. He extended an offer to Cristián, and in 2007 the pair got to work turning a system of six different valleys with their own water systems into one of the best vineyards in the country, if not the world: Viña VIK.
By planting 415 acres of vines that first year, they were officially the founding growers in the Millahue Valley. A few years later, when they began building their winery, they were also pioneers — exploring uncharted territory in the world of sustainable winemaking. In addition to all the bells and whistles that every winemaker dreams of (they have one of the most extensive fruit sorting procedures we’ve ever seen), VIK has a live roof over the winery and a water mirror over the barrel room, which regulate temperature and humidity to create the perfect environment for happy fermentations and storage. Cristián practices holistic winemaking, with the greater part of the year spent in the vineyard.
How He Found Naked
One of the downsides of having a state-of-the-art winery in a relatively new DO (denominaciónes de origen a government approved Chilean wine region) is that there is very little foot traffic, and therefore not many people stumble across the opportunity to try their wines, learn about their region, or see their breathtaking facilities. They built a beautiful resort, which basically looks like someone moved the Sydney Opera House into the middle of idyllic nowhere. It graced the pages of almost every travel and wine news outlet after placing 14th in the 2019 World’s Best Vineyards Awards. People came and visited, they loved what they saw and what they tasted, but Cristián wanted his wines to reach a wider audience.
He found Naked Wines and fell head over heels with the concept. It seemed too good to be true. A platform where he could spread the word about Chile’s best wines, and one where he wouldn’t even need to go through journalists or publications — just a man, his wines, and his Angels.
“The biggest difference with Naked Wines is that wine lovers have the chance to understand the wine from inside and know the passion, hard work, and philosophy behind every sip of their glass from one of the authors of this creation, the winemaker. Every glass has to be a chapter and every sip a page…”