When it comes to top drops, Isabel Guilisasti knows a thing or two. Her family, the Guilisasti Family, is the number-one producer of wine in Chile. Viña Concha y Toro is ranked the fourth largest wine company worldwide, and the wines themselves win important awards every year like their Casillero del Diablo label, iconic Don Melchor label, Marques de Casa Concha, Frontera and others.
Isabel, who heads up the company’s Origin Wines since 2000, is the women responsible for the company’s branding and marketing successes. Unassumingly modest and warm, Isabel chats to us about marketing, her hometown of Santiago, and what to do in when in Chile.
What do you think are the key driving forces to your families success?
Concha y Toro has developed a business model in which it participates in every stage of the productive process, from planting the vineyards and vinification to bottling and distribution. This model allows us to ensure the high standards of excellence that define the company. Furthermore, we have made on-going investments in our own vineyards and technology, as well as productive, oenological, and technical capacity, which has allowed us to maintain the quality we are known for, a determining factor for competing successfully in the superior wine category.
Have you always worked with the family wine business or did you pursue other interest after university?
I have a degree in Art from the Catholic University of Chile, and the artistic vision has always been an important part of my life. I have seen and valued “the art of making wine” from a very young age, and became more and more interested in developing content and brand image while studying marketing at the Adolfo Ibáñez University. It was natural for me to get into marketing. I took charge of marketing at Viña Cono Sur—a subsidiary of Concha y Toro—and joined Viña Concha y Toro in 2000.
Please share with us your role at Concha y Toro?
I have been the Manager of Marketing since 2000 and am in charge of the icon, ultra premium, and super premium brands.
From your experience, what are the key ingredients to success in marketing wine in the premium category?
The world of wine is very much diversified; there are many labels and the competition is very high, so brand creation is essential. Today there are at least three key elements for reaching this objective. There’s the Unique Selection Proposition, which seeks to give the consumer something beyond the brand, not just the product. We try to give our consumers not only the best wines on the market, but also experiences based on wine, and that way we develop brands that invite consumers to enjoy new and enjoyable experiences related to wine. In addition to that, quality is a key and absolutely fundamental element, and finally, having very good distribution of the wines is also an element that clearly marks a difference.
When did you get married and how old are your children? Do they all have a passion for wine too?
I have been married for 32 years and have four children, two of whom are directly involved in the wine world. My daughter Isabel is also a winemaker and has worked with Enrique Tirado making Don Melchor since 2013, and my son Alejandro is the Assistant Manager of Marketing at Emiliana, the company’s organic winery.
What is a typical working day like for you?
My days are usually pretty hectic. In addition to being in charge of Concha y Toro’s ‘Wines of Origin,’ developing marketing strategies, and planning the conceptual development of the company’s premium and ultra premium brands, I also travel constantly to take part in activities with our different markets; for example, I am a member of Vinexpo’s Board of Directors, which is an opportunity to provide new perspectives and experiences of other companies in the context of globalization as well as being tremendously satisfying to represent Viña Concha y Toro in a situation that brings together some of the most important members of the wine industry. This is without a doubt a great recognition of the winery’s leadership and the prestige of Chilean wine around the world.
What are your proudest achievements?
From my position in the company, I have established the vision of quality and excellence of Don Melchor, a wine that is clearly a worldwide benchmark for high-end Chilean wine. We have also done an exceptional job with Carmenere through Carmín de Peumo, and we have strengthened lines such as Terrunyo and marques de Casa Concha, both of which are clear leaders in the Chilean industry.
At the same time we have enhanced and strengthened the portfolio with the release of the Gravas del Maipo and Gran Reserva Serie Riberas lines and we have continuously worked with the oenological team on new wines and limited editions that reflect our commitment to innovation and the evolution of vinification techniques.
Where would you like to see Concha Y Toro in the next 10-20 years?
Concha y Toro has just presented a new brand image to increase the company’s visibility and perceived value on a global scale. The project looked for an image that would integrate the history and its identity with a more contemporary attitude, responding to the new positioning that has become a world-class brand, and I think that is the direction we are moving in.
Years ago, Concha y Toro set out to be one of the world wine industry’s leading brands, and today, thanks to the work and enthusiasm of many people, the brand has indeed reached that position. Today the objective is to become a global brand, not only within the wine industry, but at the global level as well, and all of our efforts are aimed at that goal.
What’s a Chilean tradition regarding food and wine you would like to share?
I would say, hands down, that it is empanadas with red wine. Empanadas are a very special food and have great meaning for Chileans, not only because they are available year-round throughout the entire country, but also because they transcend all types of situations and Chileans — in one way or another, we all identify with them. You can eat an empanada in contexts that are as dissimilar as a family gathering, a wedding, or in a rustic setting in the countryside. It’s also very hard to find a bad empanada in Chile, and traditionally, we eat them with red wine.
What are the most important characteristics, qualities you value most in a person?
I believe that honesty and humility are fundamental, and I value them enormously.
What’s a global problem that you think could be easily solved?
Access to education. Unfortunately, access to education is not equal in Chile, and it has been hard to address that properly and comprehensively. Therefore, Concha y Toro, through the Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle Foundation, plans to contribute to finding a solution, albeit on a local level. We lend economic support to the people who work in the company so they can pursue a university education that would otherwise be very difficult for them to afford. The Foundation wants people to continue their education and that in the future they also contribute by volunteering in the Foundation and helping later generations have access to the same opportunities.
A favourite thing to do in your leisure time?
I really like going to southern Chile, especially Pucón, and spending time with my family and grandson. I enjoy that tremendously and try to go as often as I can.
When in Chile, one must…
Visit southern Chile—the scenery and landscape is frankly like no other in the world. And drink Chilean wine, of course.