Since 2018, Andrea Calderon has been the Chief Winemaker for Viña San Pedro’s 1865 Wines. Home to the world’s largest desert, 2 900 volcanoes, and pure snow mountain meltwater from the Andes, Chile is ideal for making world-class wines that are complex, fresh and downright delicious. Currently, Calderon is in charge of crafting 1865 Wines for three ranges including Selected Vineyards, Selected Blend and Selected Collection.
1865 Wines belongs to Viña San Pedro, in fact, the name is a tribute to its founding year. The winery is one of the oldest, historic and most awarded wineries in the country. Receiving a Green Award by the Drinks Business for being, “Leaders in Renewable Energy,” every wine made for 1865 and at Vina San Pedro is bottled using 100% renewable energy.
Calderon grew up in Santiago, the capital of Chile and made the decision to move from the city to the wine country to begin her career in winemaking. Passionate about both nature and chemistry she combined her talents to craft award-winning wine into a single field. With an Agricultural Engineer degree from the Pontificia Universidad Católica, today, Calderon’s 1865 wines garner high points from wine critics around the world and she even has a bottle of 1865 wine that is so popular in Korea it bears her signature. The 1865 Carmenere and 1865 Cabernet Sauvignon are both available in the LCBO currently for $19.95.
Valuing balance, adventure and curiosity her key philosophies mirror themselves in both her career in wine and in life. In our discussion with her, we learn more about her and her dedication to making outstanding 1865 wines for the world to enjoy.
Andrea Calderon on her wine-making process
Love for adventure
Located on the western edge of South America, Chile is an isolated paradise for grape growing. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Andes Mountains to the east, the Patagonian ice fields to the south, and the Atacama Desert to the north – it’s a truly wondrous, adventurous and magical place to make world-class wines. As a winemaker producing wines that get exported all around the world, Andrea Calderon loves the art of travel, adventure and seeing different parts of the globe.
This passion for education and enlightenment began early in her career. “When I graduated from college, I went to harvest grapes on the west coast of the United States without knowing anyone. I don’t know if it was crazy, but at least it was something that, at 23, took me totally out of my comfort zone. Once I finished my job, I rented a car and spent a month driving alone through all the US valleys between Seattle and San Diego. The experience really left its mark and I try to go on an adventure like that every two years now,” Calderon says. As a winemaker her position enables her to share her 1865 winemaking story with consumers all over the world and the sense of adventure she had years ago still resonates with her as she tells her story to 1865 wine lovers around the world.
The illumination of the sun in Chile allows for grapes to grow to full fruit maturation while the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean offer cool breezes to keep the grapes growing in comfortable, cooler climate growing conditions. This blend of sunlight and cool Mediterranean climate gives the final wines freshness, structure and balance.
Calderon’s favourite wine is the 1865 Selected Collection Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon which is made from a historic vineyard in Curicó Valley. Chile has the most ungrafted vines in the world, and the 1865 Selected Collection Old Vines is made from 70-year-old ungrafted Cabernet Sauvignon vines which produce superb and complex fruit. With unparalleled aging potential, this wine is truly a masterpiece to be enjoyed and a bottle that truly showcases Chile’s potential in the ultra-premium world of wine. Always eager to gain new knowledge, for her next personal adventure, she says she would love to explore the unique wines from Spain’s Canary Islands. “The Canary Islands is an origin that offers interesting, authentic wines, endemic varieties and great diversity of grape types. I would also love to explore the landscapes created by the way the vineyards are planted,” shares Calderon.
Andrea’s sense of adventure is fostered by her winemaking journey as she explores the unique regions and wines that 1865 offers her. She works with old vines, cooler regions, unique grapes and ungrafted vines to craft wines with character and distinction.
The art of balance
A typical day for Andrea generally starts off in the office with computer work answering emails and general administration. Then, she’s off to the winery to taste samples, monitor how the blends in the cellar are performing and taste wines that are being aged. She also travels to all of the vineyards she manages in Chile and to Argentina and balances her time between vineyard management, cellar maintenance and travel. She admits she’s on the road a lot taking care of her vineyards and understanding how each vine is performing over the course of the vintage.
Leading a team of about 15 people it’s all about managing a finely tuned balance. She does her best to stay in constant contact with the other departments to keep communication as it’s best and keep the team informed. From the lab to marketing, communications and sales there are more than 40 people behind the 1865 brand who collaborate and balance their efforts to bring these wines to market.
“Another important aspect of my work is the direct contact with different suppliers and the commercial and marketing areas. I also try to make time in my week to learn about other innovations and keep abreast of what the industry is doing,” Calderon explains.
A balancing act across many platforms she understands the science of crafting a wine, career and lifestyle with harmony. Her connection to nature helps her perfect the art of balance in the vineyard. Calderon has always been passionate about being connected with nature and the countryside. These two things are what led her to into winemaking. Understanding the natural art and science of balance at both work and play enables her to be a talented professional in her position.
“I like stand-up paddle boarding, especially on lakes. In fact, I am part of a “Paddle Pilates” group. We paddle into a lagoon, tie our boards together and do pilates floating in the water. Balance is the big challenge (or you fall in the water),” shares Calderon. She takes these lessons and puts them into action in her winemaking philosophy. “You are at the mercy of nature and, therefore, when faced with unusual circumstances, you must react immediately and learn from the past,” she explains.
Always staying curious
Being curious is a very large part of being a great winemaker – and a fascinating professional at any level. From constantly asking questions to being open to innovation and technology to staying humble, curiosity it’s a quality that the best winemakers embrace. Wine is an industry that crosses so many industries and Calderon specialized in enology as a way of combining all of her curious sensations and putting them to great use by producing world-class wines.
“My first big challenge as a winemaker was to leave city life behind, forget about having everything close at hand and immediately available and adapt to the rhythm of country life. Although the lifestyle change was really difficult, surprisingly, the change was more than positive. I learned to live day by day; all my days are different,” mentions Calderon.
A food and wine lover, Calderon loves to be in the kitchen and explore food and wine pairings. Her speciality is her own ceviche recipe which she can gladly pull out of her back pocket to win any ceviche-making competition. Given her close proximity to the ocean and her love for the water (where she plans on putting down roots in the near future), she loves to experiment with unique types of food and wine pairings.
“Chile has a very strange marine species called piure, which has a protective covering resembling a rock. It has a really unique taste. People do not usually like it if they are not used to it because the high iodine and iron content give it an intense metallic taste. I love it, but pairing it with wine is quite a challenge. Many pairings did not work, but after a lot of trying, I found that a good orange wine works just perfectly,” she says.
Calderon crafts a selection of wines for 1865 wines. Here in Canada, you’ll find the 1865 Carmenere and 1865 Cabernet Sauvignon are both available in the LCBO currently for $19.95. Both of these are aged in barrels for 12 months and come through the LCBO in limited quantities. On a rare occasion, you might the Selected Collection Old Vines and Desert Valley Syrah, and possibly in the near future you’ll see the newest addition to the portfolio, 1865 Prelusion, a masterful red blend that gives homage to the great vineyards and stories of 1865.