Today we speak with one of the importing pioneers of the the wine world, Alex Guarachi. Up to 20 years ago, Chilean wines were largely unheard of in the states, until the exporting business headed by Guarachi, TGIC Importers, began expanding the market for South American brands in America.
Though Chile is now widely recognized as one of the greatest wine producers in the world, the road to get here has been full of hard work for Alex, and he shares some of his history with us. In addition to detailing the growing global market for Chilean wine, Alex shares about his own family imprint, Guarachi Family Wines. We also discuss other trends, upstarts, and unsung heroes in the wine world with an eye on the future and glass full of lovely wine.
Alex Guarachi hails from Santiago, Chile. One of eight children, wine, some of the best from his homeland, was a staple on the dinner table. When Alex made the pilgrimage from Chile to the U.S., those wines were nowhere to be found. The entrepreneur vowed to change that and TGIC, Thank God It’s Chilean, was born.
America had not been formally introduced to Chilean wines, and Alex seized the opportunity of this virtually untapped market. In 1985, through resources of his own, he managed to purchase his first container of Chilean wine. TGIC Importers, Inc. was officially open for business. What began as a one-man show operating out of Alex’s dimly lit garage has grown into a multi-million dollar company boasting a portfolio of some of the finest wines from not only Chile, but also Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and California.
TGIC celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010. To commemorate this milestone, Alex introduced Guarachi Family Wines and is enjoying the fruits of this labor. With his friend, Paul Hobbs, as the winemaker, Guarachi Family Wines’ Pinot Noir has been awarded 94 points by Wine Spectator. The revered publication gave the Cabernet Sauvignon 92 points. Though Alex is from Chile, he sports an immense passion for California wines, which is why his freshman effort springs from vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties.
00:01 Wine Down Introduction.
00:51 Introducing Alex Guarachi of TGIC and Guarachi Family Wines.
02:30 Tasting the Guarachi Chardonnay and how Alex got his start in wine making.
04:10 From soccer to the wine business.
06:40 The early days of Chilean wine importing and the market compared to now.
08:56 California labels using Chilean juice to fill their bottles.
10:24 The old Gato Negro and Gato Blanco labels and the American cat lover market.
11:58 “What was your learning curve and how did you build your palate?”
13:20 Educating the consumer about Chilean wine--the surviving old european vineyards.
14:34 “At what point did you decide you were on to something significant?”
16:18 Montes Alpha and the raising the standard of Chilean wine.
20:34 “I’ve been blessed to represent the best wineries.”
21:22 The European feeling of Chile and Argentina.
24:58 “How has the wine world changed over the last 25 years?”
28:04 Entry level wines, before graduating from Cupcake.
29:58 Factors in keeping the costs low on South American wines, and developing the American palate.
33:22 Wholesaling over 120 labels, and finding mentorship and business partners.
35:58 “Could someone recreate what you did 25 years ago, today?”
39:52 The decision to produce his own wine, and finding the right genius consultant to team up with.
44:42 Selling your own wine as opposed to other labels.
47:00 Alex’ involvement in the wine making: “Amazing or nothing.”
49:18 Exciting trends for wine today.
53:10 Tasting the Guarachi Cabernet--Napa’s finest.
54:07 Where to look next worldwide--from Italy to Oregon.
56:42 Smaller distributors working in the shadow of the huge distributors.
58:18 Thanks and Cheers!
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