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The remaking of Casablanca: the sources and impacts of rapid local transformation in Chile's wine industry

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The Casablanca region of Chile has emerged in recent decades as a highly specialised wine region, a relatively small producer by volume by Chilean standards, but one characterised by a high degree of varietal specialisation, export orientation and supposed high quality. Unlike other regions, grapes were hardly in evidence 30 years ago, but now they dominate the landscape of the valley. Wine companies, mainly Chilean owned and operated, have invested heavily in the region, learning that the region's environment is suited to the production of white grape varieties, principally chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. These have come to dominate the area's vineyards just as they have come to define Casablanca in the minds of many consumers. As the industry expands, new trends are emerging, such as the involvement of larger Chilean wine companies, acquiring Casablanca wines as part of their brand portfolio and the broadening of Casablanca-based operations to relocate some of their non-white wine production to other regions. In these ways, Casablanca is being remade in productive and imaginary senses and stands at the forefront of the Chilean industry as a region trying to forge a distinctive identity in domestic and export markets.
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Keywords: Chile; New World; carmenère; cool climate; export(s); premium-quality wine; regional economy; rural development; sauvignon blanc; terroir; wine; wine tourism; winery(ies)

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences,Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand 2: Department of Geography,The University of Chile, Santiago, Chile

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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