Concha y Toro’s history begins in 1883 with our founder’s -Melchor Concha y Toro- dream to create the best wines. A tradition persevered over time, inspiring staff to work with passion and excellence in the brand.
Concha y Toro is today the most admired wine brand in the world. The wines deliver rewarding and unique experiences to consumers around the world. Those brands such as Casillero del Diablo, Marques de Casa Concha, and Don Melchor have conquered their outstanding quality and maintain an undisputed leadership position in the competitive world of wine.
Chilean winemakers have long puzzled over a rhetorical question that Chilean wine is always considered inexpensive. In order to change this marketing image, Don Alfonso Larraín, Chairman of Concha y Toro, concluded a partnership agreement with Baroness Philippine de Rothschild in order to create a fine Franco-Chilean wine called Almaviva. Chile offers its soil, its climate, and its vineyard, while France brings its winegrowing traditions and expertise. Since the day of its birth, Almaviva was the first wine in Chile created under this French Château concept, taking into account exceptional terroir, one unique bodega, and one technical team – the three of which are dedicated exclusively to the production of one wine of unparalleled quality and excellence.
Concha y Toro makes high-quality wines with solid and sustainable management, to ensure that each step of the process is in harmony with the environment. Heritage and tradition form part of the essence, in perfect balance with the cutting-edge and innovative spirit. This is the pillar for production excellence, the sustainability of the processes, and the empowerment of Chilean winemaking. Viña Concha y Toro aims to be a leading global wine company, consumer-centric with a focus on developing premium wine brands and embracing a future committed to innovation, sustainability, and the development of people and their communities.
As the Vice President of Fine Wines & Corporate Image at Viña Concha y Toro, Isabel Guilisasti has over 30 years of experience. Isabel began her career at Viña Concha y Toro in 1997, first as marketing manager of Viña Cono Sur, one of the holding’s subsidiaries. Then, in 2000, she took over as Marketing Manager of Concha y Toro’s Fine Wines division. In this position, Isabel continuously fostered the highest standards in brands, content and corporate image, and oversaw the development of new brands. Isabel is invigorated by the challenge of strengthening the winery’s international standing through high-profile brands from Chile, Argentina, and the United States.
The Guilisasti family has a wide and recognized influence in the Chilean and international wine industry. Since Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle was in charge of Viña Concha y Toro in the 1950s, the family has focused on promoting the development of wine industry, leading Chile to become a world-class wine producer.
Isabel brings her creative perspective, discipline and deep professional experience to fine wine, focusing on elevating visibility and appreciation of Chilean high-end wines among global audiences. In 2020, Isabel was nominated as Wine Executive of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine, and she is the first Chilean to have served on the board of VinExpo.
Isabel Guilisasti, through her recent interview with WINWSA, talks about Chilean wine industry and the Viña Concha y Toro.
ML：How many years have you been in the wine & spirits business?
IG：I have been in the wine business for 25 years.
ML：What makes you devote yourself to the wine and spirits sector?
IG: My family has been involved in the wine business for more than 7 decades. I grew up among vines and wine bottles.
ML：What are the main transformation & changes in the industry you have experienced so far?
IG：I have experienced many transformations during my career, such as:
• The premiumization of the wine category: more consumers are willing to buy and taste wines at a premium price.
• Women are drinking more wine, and have come to represent a large percentage of the buyer segment.
• Global interest among wine consumers to taste wines from different producer countries.
• Post-pandemic socialization following lock down.
• Increase in wine consumption in the Asian market.
• Increase in the demand for high-end wines, both for consumption and collection.
ML：What do you enjoy most in your career? The biggest challenge you have encountered as a woman in the industry? What drives you to keep going?
IG：What I enjoy most is understanding the market, identifying the new trends, consumption occasions, and what moves new generations etc., all from a global point of view. Also, creativity, where I try to add value with every single step I take in my daily work. That is what moves me more and gives meaning to my entire career.
The biggest challenge in my career is not as a woman but as a professional, and that is to inspire others to take the path of excellence, innovation and sustainability throughout the wine business. Those three pillars inspire both my work and my life. I am totally devoted to excellence, innovation and creativity as a pillar of growth, creating a positive impact through the environment and social consciousness.
ML：What are the main distinguishing merits or qualities in women attributing to career success?
IG：The very essence of women gives us the innate ability to engage with others, creating strong and deep bonds. I have learned through the beauty of nature that we may be different in terms of our essence but we need one another’s strengths in order to build a better world and for every aspect of our lives.
ML：Any Advice to your peers?
IG：Yes, I would say let’s keep on working with all our creativity and love to build a world based on harmony and beauty.
ML：Wines by Concha y Toro are very popular with global consumers, what’s your understanding of their wine-drinking preferences?
IG：We have to understand that drinking wine – whether we are sharing a glass of wine with others or enjoying it alone – opens up an opportunity to transform each glass of wine into a memorable experience.Today consumers are more knowledgeable about different varieties and places of origin, and so, while price is of course also important, they can decide which variety they want to choose according to the consumption occasion or with the kind of food it is to be paired with.
ML：Wine pairing has been a fundamental component of Western gourmet culture, and industries have dedicated to expounding on the pairing ideas for years, while China also enjoys its own great dining traditions. How would you convince consumers that wines and Chinese cuisines can also match perfectly?
IG：Of course enjoying a glass of wine with different food pairings is one of the most interesting and memorable experiences consumers should try.
ML：Your daughter Isabel Mitarakis also works in the wines business, who is a very talented and accomplished winemaker. What are the similarities or differences between you two?
IG：We share our passion for wine; we understand the beauty behind wine; the vineyard, vines, soil, climate and the work undertaken by us humans, as the guardians of the place, in order to achieve the best expression of the specific terroir.Isabel, my daughter, is a very talented winemaker.
I am much more involved in building content and educating consumers through brand building. She has technical skills, while I am more market-driven.
ML：Chile has always been the frontrunner in sustainable development of wine industry, do you believe this quality is advantageous to Chilean wine promotion? Do you believe consumers will pay more attention to sustainability in wine in the future?
IG：Of course, we are producers and we cultivate vines, so our commitment to the planet and environmental issues is part of our responsibility. Consumers now are more conscious of climate change than they have ever been before and they will choose wine brands that care about cultivating for the future of our planet. Social issues are also so relevant now. I truly believe all industries need to develop their own sustainability programs.
ML：What’s your opinion on the future of Chilean wines, as a major part of New World wines? Which are the advantages of Chilean wine(s) compared to the wines of other countries and regions?
IG：Chile has unique conditions for growing vines and developing wines of extraordinary quality.
Our geography is unique: we have the Andes Mountains providing freshness and natural waters that irrigate our valleys. We have the Pacific Ocean that provide freshness and a cooling effect. Also the desert to the north and the Antarctic to the south, which act as natural barriers. Our country is very long and narrow; our valleys were formed from Andean material with an extraordinary diversity of soils and are absolutely protected by nature.
We are located in the southernmost extreme of the planet and this is a beautiful and unique place for growing vines.
ML：Who will you recommend us for an interview as the next WWS figure?
IG：I will definitely recommend Sophie Liu, a renowned wine writer. She has a tremendous passion for wine and has played a key role in educating and elevating in the past years the perception of Chilean wines in the China market.
Image courtesy: Isabel Guilisasti and Internet
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