The assumption of Alejandro Vigil as President of Wines of Argentina was one of the most important events in the world of wine in 2022.
The Chief Winemaker at Catena Zapata and creator of El Enemigo Wines, Vigil is one of the most important figures in world viticulture and his administration has been welcomed with great enthusiasm by wineries across the country.
Thanks to his broad perspective of the industry as a whole, right from the start of his term, the oenologist has been encouraging greater integration across the different sectors of the industry in response to the major challenges being faced by Argentine wine.
“The first initiative I proposed to the Board of Directors and the members of WofA was to look internally and decide what we’re going to do over the next few months. In our industry, people’s tastes and market conditions are changing all the time, so it’s important to understand where we are, what we have to offer and what we’re going to share with the world.”
This introspective approach also involved analysis of the relationship between the different major players in the industry such as, for example, Bodegas de Argentina, Coviar and the Unión Vitivinícola Argentina (UVA), Fondo Vitivinícola, the Consejo Federal de Inversiones and INPROTUR, among others.
“We need to polish and standardize communication about what we want and we need to enhance the visibility of Argentine wine. Of course, we need to respect the independence of each institution but still work together in an organized manner, focused on a shared message,” Alejandro Vigil continues.
As regards the difficulties currently being faced by the wine business in Argentina (fluctuations in the exchange rate, inflation, the cost in dollars of different supplies and difficulties with exports, among others) Alejandro Vigil notes that “all the chambers need to do in-depth analysis of the overall situation in order to produce a shared vision of our working objectives. We know that it will take time, but it’s what Wines of Argentina is working toward right now.”
Alejandro Vigil’s objectives for WoFA
Inverse missions, a fundamental aspect
Among the most important tools mentioned by Vigil are inverse missions: “We want to gather together as many wine leaders as we can to come and get to know the country, our culture and everything we have to offer. These visits continue to be a fundamental part of WofA’s work in the trade, they have a direct effect on the ‘Argentina’ category and on increasing the country’s visibility as a producer of Premium wine.”
In this area, the agenda for 2023 is packed: “We’re very pleased with the results we’ve achieved so far, and we have an ambitious, federal plan that we hope will increase representation of smaller projects. We are certain that each visitor will become an ambassador for what we do across the planet. We need to take advantage of the present conditions, which may be adverse in many respects, but that actually help us to provide an in-depth introduction to the world of Argentine wine. It’s an opportunity to arrange activities with a high impact at a relatively low cost.”
A federal strategy
Vigil’s program also involves the diversification of the origins and professions of WofA’s guests: “We take care of press relations and those with specialized media, and also wine buyers. It’s well known that Argentina makes world class wines, but we need to be attractive to all consumers, including those looking for wine at a more economic price point.”
To achieve this, all the different wine regions and wineries of all sizes will be involved: “We want to federalize the activities of WofA and also to listen to all the actors in the industry. We have incredible diversity that we need to promote and we know that we have to evolve to reinforce our presence in each market. To achieve this, we need greater communication and collaboration, which is why we shall continue focusing on interaction and coordination. There is no doubt that we can achieve much more by working together.”
More exports, fairs and communication
Alejandro Vigil notes that the institution will work to “break through the ceiling we’ve been hitting for years with exports, it’s an issue we need to resolve by focusing on the lifestyle universe and other fields so as to reach new audiences and markets.”
The challenge for 2023 includes expanding the overall vision and also to organize mini-fairs and commercial activities with importers in the major markets for Argentine wine.
“We need to keep promoting the qualities, diversity and origins of our wines to increase export volume. It might be hard for us to admit but in certain markets Argentina hasn’t yet managed to establish a reputation for quality wine. That is why we need to consolidate our image as a producer country and to do that we need to lean on the country’s better-known assets such as football and leading national figures.”
Innovation, diversity, inclusion
Alejandro Vigil sums up the fundamental pillars of WofA’s current communication strategy: “We are a leading viticultural country in terms of innovation and we need to let people know about the advances we’re making. This isn’t a new phenomenon, we’ve been doing research for years, diversifying, growing and consolidating the quality of our wines.”
Regarding the “Women of Argentina” initiative, whose goal is to increase the visibility of the women in the wine sector and act as a focal point for the institution’s actions in the realm of equality, inclusion, gender issues and the prevention and eradication of violence against women, Vigil says:
“Today our industry is leading the way on issues of gender, diversity, inclusion and empowerment. Great progress is being made and it will be of enormous benefit in our relationship with the world. Recent visitors have been excited by WofA’s commitment to these policies and tell us that we’re pioneers in the area.”
Sustainability: the present and future of Argentine wine
In 2022, WofA implemented several practices and activities that had a tangible social, environmental and economic impact such as the support given to the Mendoza Global Network of Pollinators and their fight against climate change as part of the United Nations “Race to Zero” campaign, and joining the Sustainable Wine Roundtable (SWR), an independent global coalition that is looking to involve the entire wine industry by generating dialogue, collaboration and consensus on issues such as sustainability.
“We’re also a very active, pioneering country in the field of sustainability. We have the Bodegas de Argentina Sustainability Protocol, one of the first to be developed in the world, but we need everyone to know about it. There are great strides to be taken, we shall work tirelessly to achieve all our objectives,” concludes the oenologist.