Aurelio Montes Sr. honoured with IWC Lifetime Achievement Award

Huge congratulations to Aurelio Montes Sr. who has been honoured with the International Wine Challenge Lifetime Achievement Award "in recognition of his remarkable and on-going contribution to the world of wine."

A pioneer in Colchagua Valley, Aurelio built from scratch in 1988 a winery that was founded to produce premium Chilean wines – long before such a concept existed in the mind of the consumer. He put premium Chilean wine on the world map and continues to push the limits of viticulture today.

The IWC judges said: "The winner of our Lifetime Achievement Award is a pioneer. [Aurelio Montes Sr.] made Chile’s first premium wine – a Cabernet Sauvignon – and changed the direction of Chile’s wine industry. He showed the potential of planting on steep hillsides and making iconic wines. He showed fellow Chilean producers they could earn better, fairer prices. He unlocked the potential of wine regions previously unplanted with vines: Apalta and Marchigüe in the Colchagua Valley, Zapallar in the coastal portion of the Aconcagua Valley, and, more recently, on the tiny island of Mechuque, 1,000km south of Santiago. He has long been one of the driving forces behind Chile’s rise to prominence and is currently president of Wines of Chile. As such, he continues to push Chile’s image as a producer of world-class wines."

Viña Montes was co-founded by Aurelio in 1988, with the aim of producing the best wines in Chile from the best regions. Their first wine, the Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, marked its 30th Anniversary in 2017 and remains a standard-bearer for premium Chilean winemaking to this day.

David Gleave MW comments: “Aurelio Montes is one of those people who is always on the move to the next challenge. When he arrived in Apalta, few vineyards were planted. Yet he saw the potential and set about the herculean task of clearing the land to plant vineyards, sometimes on vertiginous slopes. Once he had made Apalta a sought-after name for Chilean red wine, he was the first to plant vines in an area everyone said was too cool to ripen fruit: Zapallar. He knew he could ripen fruit, but only if he kept yields low enough, which in turn meant premium prices. The Outer Limits Syrah and Pinot Noir have proved him right. His current challenge is Chiloé, where his vineyard is the furthest south anyone has ever planted in Chile. The realisation of one of these projects would have been enough to make his name as one of the great innovators in Chile; to realise three is quite exceptional.”

For full details of the IWC award winners, please visit the International Wine Challenge website.