Focus and identity, the keys to Uruguayan wine exports


In Uruguay we are playing a good game when it comes to wine exports. Why? In the first place because the identity of the production is totally genuine, and that is the differential of our wineries. We produce wines with proven quality, and the wineries, which are mostly family-owned, carry with them a lot of tradition and their own expressions.

In the case of the Marichal winery, its first antecedent dates back to 1916, when my great-grandparents began to plant vineyards. Later, in 1938, they decided to create their own winery. Their process, during the last century, was a faithful reflection of what viticulture went through in Uruguay. At first, it was dedicated exclusively to production for the local market, even supplying other wineries.
Nowadays, it is managed by the third and fourth generation of the family, which I represent together with my brother Alejandro Marichal. We are both winemakers and we are involved in leading its development.

The great wine reconversion that Uruguay underwent in the 80's and 90's, when all the vineyards were replanted to reach export quality, was the foundation of our internationalization. In 2002 we began to explore this path, participating in our first international fair in London. This meant negotiations and sending samples, culminating in the shipment of the first order to Germany in 2004.

As a small family business, we decided to focus our efforts on Europe and Brazil. We started attending a European trade fair once a year and tried to generate new small customers. We achieved this in Italy, Holland, Belgium and England, and recently a shipment was confirmed for Switzerland.

We spent about seven years selling in these markets, because exporting also requires a lot of work later, being attentive to customers, sending them information, making visits and tastings. For our scale it was important to have focus because we couldn't serve all the markets at once.
About five years ago we started exporting to the United States, which is one of the markets in which we have the most growth. There the contact was as a result of an importer of family wineries from South America that already had Chilean and Argentine wineries and was selecting a Uruguayan winery.
When you start exporting to a market, links are generated that allow you to grow. For example, we currently export to Chile, which is a non-traditional destination for our wine, and which arose as a result of the contacts created in the United States.

In order to internationalize, we rely on the embassies in Uruguay XXI, the National Institute of Viticulture (INAVI) and the Association of Fine Wine Exporting Wineries of Uruguay, which meets regularly and works together so that all the promotional efforts we can make from Uruguay are as effective as possible. The initial contacts we made were as a result of the activities promoted and coordinated in conjunction with other wineries.

Now, more consolidated, we are in the process of expansion. We have just sent the first shipment to China -through the online store Zonamerica promoted there-, we were already in New Zealand and Australia with distributors that supply gastronomic centers and specialized stores.
Now we are about to finalize our first export to Colombia, thanks to a visit organized by Uruguay XXI and in which we participated in June. With this support we were able to coordinate meetings with clients and we are now in the final stage of preparing the shipment.

Little by little we are mixing the local work, where we reach the main restaurants of Montevideo and Punta del Este, specialized stores and some supermarkets with the export, which is the future of Uruguay. Although it is a slow road and never the first orders are for many bottles, if the wine follows a correct channel and maintains a proper link that commits the customer to the quality and origin of wines, success is assured.

Juan Andrés Marichal
Director of Bodega Marichal