The Love for Wine Spread Over The Andes – Vina Montes and Kaiken
They say “like father like son” but in the case of the Montes, they stand for different sides of the Andes. Aurelio Montes, Sr. represents Chile and Vina Montes. Aurelio Montes, Jr. exemplifies Argentina and Kaiken. Although they are different countries and wineries, they have a lot in common, especially their passion for wine.
An exuberant passion for both wine and winemaking are two important components for producing an outstanding wine. This is true for both Aurelio Sr. and Aurelio Jr. I met Aurelio Montes, Jr., winemaker for Kaiken, a few years ago. When you’re in his company, his enthusiasm for his craft is quite apparent. You immediately sense his fervor for wine, the terroir and the entire winemaking process. This is also true of his father, which I sensed at a father-son tasting recently.
For Aurelio Jr., his love of wine started at a young age. His father made sure of this by dragging his son around the world with him as he was expanding his winery’s reach. Aurelio Jr. also worked in the vineyards starting at a young age.
At the time, Aurelio Montes, Sr. discovered the viticulture and terroir of the region east of the Andes – Mendoza, Argentina. As a result, he was moved to expand his winemaking prowess. He achieved this by having a hand in creating wines in a country very close to his native Chile, yet very different in the styles of winemaking. Hence, Kaiken was established in 2002.
Kaiken’s name represents the wild geese, caiquenes, that cross the Andes between Chile and Argentina during migration season. The name of the winery not only symbolizes this wild goose but also the Montes team that crossed the Andes to create the marvelous wines that embody the Kaiken label.
The Caiquen is also a very social bird and thereby suggests Aurelio Montes Jr. and Aurelio Montes Sr.
the social aspects that bring people together over a bottle of wine and food. It also represents the social responsibilities the winemakers feel they have in both Chile and Argentina.
A Passion for Wine Through Sustainability
The Aurelios are very civic minded and the community plays an important role in both wineries. Sustainability is important in every aspect of the vineyard. For Vina Montes and Kaiken, this means protecting the environment and biodiversity, as well as attention to operations management and social responsibility. In other words, it is the mission of both wineries to “respect the environment, embrace sustainable practices, work in harmony with the local community and create value for both the shareholders and employees.”
At Vina Montes, the Angels program speaks out in the wines, winery community, and the local surroundings. Aurelio Sr. does this through a learning project he finances that includes complimentary health and life insurance for his employees and their families. As he puts it, “Happy people means happy wines.” The angel is their symbol and also the guardian of the Vina Montes winery. Some of his wines are dedicated to this program, including the Purple Angel and Sparkling Angel.
Another unique aspect of Vina Montes is music. You can always hear it resounding in the barrel room and the vineyards. Often, Gregorian chants echo throughout the winery.
Perhaps to further the importance of a sustainable approach to winemaking, Aurelio Sr. hired a Feng Shui architect to design and construct the winery building in 1990 and ensure that its environment is attuned to the wines. Even the water flows through the winery in a certain way.