Chamber Announces this Year's Friend of Chile Awards

Philadelphia’s business and cultural communities turned out to taste the ‘solution’ to a 100 year old transcontinental viticulture mystery during a wine party which was the back drop for the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce announcement of this year’s award winners for the Friend of Chile Banquet Luncheon this coming November 15, 2012

The charming event held at The Print Center of Philadelphia, in partnership with ProChile and Wines of Chile, emphasized the alliance between the Arts and Business. Amid the classic fine art photographs adorning the walls, the atmosphere was charged with anticipation around the introduction of the Carmenère Wines from the Colchagua and Central Valleysin Chile. The Carmenère grape was one of the six noble grapes of Bordeaux, France and was the only ‘great grape’ thought lost to humanity after the phylloxera blight that wiped out much of France’s grape vineyards during the 1860’s to 1880’s. Many of the ‘great grapes’ were recovered via plants that had been shipped to California. But for over 100 years, it was thought the Carmenère grape was lost forever. The evening’s Carmenère wines were supplied by SOI Wines and their Chairman, Norman Schwartz picks up the story, “In 1994 a viticulturist trying to figure out why the merlot wine of Chile was so unique, identified and discovered the secret ingredients were not merlot grapes, but actually genuine Carmenère grapes and Chile now makes this signature world class wine available once again.” Having helped the successful launch of Yellowtail Wines and many other liquors,Schwartz’s love of history and this intriguing story of ‘wine paradise lost and found,’ drove his energies to develop the Oops label’s Carmenère wines. He explains, just as today, there is an American connection dating back over 200 years, “In the late 1700’s, Thomas Jefferson went to Bordeaux, France, tasting all the different varietals. He then introduced Ben Franklin and other historic figures to the great Bordeaux’s and very specifically to Carmenère. So to find it growing so successfully in Chile and have it be discovered all over again has really established the Chilean wine business in a much stronger manner than ever before.”

Robert Palaima, the President of the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce, announced this year’s winners to be honored at the 15th Annual Friend of Chile Award Banquet, while emphasizing the Chamber’s commitment to strengthening businesses throughout the Delaware Valley Region.

“We have selected the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and in particular its Wine Committee and Staff, as the recipient of the Pablo Neruda Award for 2012. Through its well-recognized Bacchanal Wine Auction, the Committee has not only benefitted aspiring student artists at PAFA, but has promoted cross cultural understanding and strengthened international ties through a shared affinity for wine and the wine making arts, and in particular has elevated the recognition of quality Chilean wines in the Delaware Valley region.

The Friend of Chile Award is being given to David Schiro, the president of Jac. Vandenberg, Incorporated, a company which helped pioneer the importation of fruit from Chile.

In making the announcement, the Chamber noted his pivotal role in Chile’s economic progress. David Schiro said, “I am greatly honored to be the recipient of the 2012 Friend of Chile Award. It is most gratifying to be included in the group of outstanding people who have also received this distinguished award and great thanks to the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce.”

Mr. Schiro has been a leader in the Chilean Fresh Fruit industry for over 36 years, and has been influential in the growth of the industry throughout his career.

Annually, 85 million cases of Chilean produce travel through the three ports of the Delaware River. That number represents 65% of Chile’s exports, all coming through the Delaware Valley region.

“Whatever Chile does, it always turns out first-class products,” said Robert Palaima. “Their exceptional wines, grapes and all their fresh produce speak volumes for Chile’s remarkable agricultural accomplishments on the world stage. The Carmenère grapes and wines are poised to take their delicious place at the head of the international wine table.”

The executive director of the Print Center, Liz Spungen told the gathering they are one of the oldest groups in the country dedicated to fine-art print making and photography. She said hosting this cultural and business event “builds another important bridge between the commerce community and the Arts.”

“Such alliances insure a better future for everyone,” said Ricardo Maldonado, the Executive Director of the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce. “The success of this evening shows us when the Arts and Business get together – our entire society is the really big winner. The cultural richness of an evening like this, with an ancient wine restored, a mystery solved, its proponents coming together from three different continents, charting new territory and making history is what ‘good business’ is all about.”

With that winning combination in mind, the Chilean & American Chamber announced that the 15th Annual “Friend of Chile” Awards luncheon will be held at the Union League, 140 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at noon. For sponsorship and information call 215-790-3769

Click here to see pictures from “Experience Carmenère” wine tasting

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