Our Story

About Us

The Rogue Vine is a project created by Amigos in Itata!

Our team is made up of two people. We both had the wish of making different wines; wines with character! To achieve this we had to find different vineyards, different Terroirs, and to make them in a different way! There was no other option.

The forgotten old bush vines almost falling out of steep granitic hills in ITATA were the perfect scenery to start this project. 

It is very exciting for us, what we have found in Itata! We have found Rogue Vines. 

Itata Vineyards in winter
Amigos in Itata
Wine Bottling Event
Wine Talk

Justin Decker

Wine, and the beginning of something profound for me, began on a snowy day in Indiana.  As the snow continued to fall, and the roads closed for nearly three days, more and more friends came to our house for friendship, laughter, and comfort.  I learned a few things that day when we began opening bottles that I was meticulously storing.  Among the many, special occasions are made and seldom planned for and wine is made to be drunk, not saved.

Most winemakers I know seem to have a specific wine that represents a pivotal moment in their lives.  Sure, a complex wine is fun to talk about with those that also make wine or taste for a living, but come on, when was the last time you dissected the flavors of a great meal?  A great experience isn’t about describing what your eating, doing, drinking, it’s about the now, the experience.  A great wine can start something, but it’s the people that truly make it magical.  Wine is only a vehicle that transports an event into a memorable one.

Why do I make wine?  Because it’s an amazing transformation, to take something so natural, so real and such a part of the earth and transform it into an amazingly tasty beverage, that is incredible.  That it goes beyond just a liquid refreshment, and is not only a part of conversation but the guide we sometimes need to push the conversation and experiences forward and beyond.  So, I really don’t make wine, I help create stimulating conversations about friendship, love, sports, construction projects, and a plethora of other things, and who wouldn’t want a hand in that if they could.

Los Amigos

Leonardo Erazo Lynch

After finishing university, falling in love with a young female winemaker and then having that relationship not work, gave me the perfect excuse to start traveling the world. My travels lasted 5 years, working and traveling in Spain, France, Australia, New Zealand and California, and then Australia where I found myself falling in love again. This time, with a South African girl who brought me to her land, and surprisingly, it again didn’t work (damn it!). While living in South Africa for 3 wonderful years, I earned a scholarship to earn a Masters in Viticulture and Terroir at Stellenbosch University. It was, to me, an amazing experience living in SA while many changes were taking place with many active young winemakers, all together with the big influence of the Master. My research was focused on the influence that soil has on wine and this gave me the chance to study soils in France and in Germany as a part of my research.

Overall I have spent 10 years traveling (so far!). This journey keeps bringing the most amazing surprises and has been incredible indeed!! Today, I’m in charge of an amazing project in Altos Las Hormigas in Mendoza, Argentina  and I’m also working very hard at Rogue Vine, a very special project for me, in the Itata Hills, in the deep south of Chile.

I believe the diversity that comes from different stimuli and traveling with no money makes a person incredibly creative. During my trips I’ve done all sorts of work related to wines, had the chance to taste and visit the most amazing vineyards, met incredible people, and keep completely changing my vision about wine and definitely myself too! There is no better way of learning about something than experiencing it, touching it and smelling it. Soil and wine are not the exception.

To look at things from outside gives you a different perspective, and many times you are able to see what you can not see from within. Sometimes being a outsider coming in can be a new insight.

The Rogue Vine wines are the results of looking at things from another perspective. Because, in some moment of the trip, you realize that without noticing, you have gotten to know yourself a little bit better, that you don’t want to do the same as others do, and that the option is to follow your own path; your own way. Even though it can be difficult, that day, you become a ROGUE.

Checking the terrain of the vineyards
Checking the grapes in the vineyard

Vineyards | Itata

Once the viticultural center of a new world colony, the Itata hills nowdays represent a forgotten viticultural region in Chile.

​The fact that the vines here in Itata can live 60-100-120 years means something: They have found a balance with the environment and with the vigneron. Today this balance is what we were looking for!

​The first vineyards in Itata were planted around the 1500s. Near the bay of Concepción was the place chosen to start the viticulture in Chile.

The Itata Valley is 500 kms south from Santiago. In the 1500s this meant a considerably distance to go planting! considering that the main urban centers were up north some 500 to 600 kms away, i.e. the towns of Valparaiso and Santiago. No public transport existed and so the only means were of transport through this still undiscovered terrain was by ship or horse caravans. This was not the only problem -at this time the area was inhabited by a very strong indigenous tribe called the Mapuches. The Mapuches have a very strong link to earth and so a very strong spirit to defend the land they lived on. Considering these problems: why would the Spanish want to plant vineyard knowing of these challenges?; Because they could actually plant here in Itata with NO IRRIGATION.

The system was this: vineyards were planted under dryland conditions, with the bush vine as a trellising system and in the steep granitic hills of Itata.

These characteristics were going to remain exactly the same 500 years later, so this is the Itata we still find today.

Once a very famous region for wine production, the viticulture of the Itata lost its fame around the 1800s. In Chile, in more central regions, the change to the vertical shoot positioning, the long rows, the technology of irrigation, vineyards planted in plane soils which was easier to mechanize and manage, with higher production, new varieties, less evident vintage effect and of course closer to the center of consumption, caused that the Itata Terroir was left behind. The Chilean wine industry moved to central Chile. Big vineyards were planted and big wineries were born. In contrast to this, the farms in Itata were getting smaller and smaller. The division of the land between families created a lot of vineyard that are between 3 to 5 ha.

​The atomization of vineyards that has been seen in Itata over the past decades, was perceived to be a problem for big wineries when they wanted to buy grapes here. In order to facilitate the purchase of grapes they have created the figure of the “middle man”. This person would gather all these grapes for big wineries. In order to facilitate the negotiation, the easiest way was to propose one fixed price for everyone. Coincidentally today this is the base price for buying grapes in Chile and the lowest prices that are paid in the Chilean industry today are in Itata.

Setting one price and ignoring the rich diversity of Itata for centuries has made a huge impact on this area.

Today the amount of vineyards in Itata is constantly decreasing. An increasing pressure to plant pine trees and eucaliptus trees is constantly threat to the old vineyards plantations.

Despite all of these problems, that which keeps the viticulture alive in Itata is something amazing: it is relationship between the people and their vineyards. Despite this constant pressure some ¨vignerons¨ still remain loyal to what they grew up with: the vineyard and the respect for the Terroir. In Itata the way of working the vineyards and how the vineyards respond to all this care, living for up to 100 years has created one of the most beautiful viticultures in the whole world.

Here, in Itata, the true spirit of the “Vigneron” exists!. We would really like you to meet the people that have decided to keep these vineyard despite all the adverse conditions, for only one reason: because they love what they do.

Somehow this short history overview introduction has led the Itata Hills that have been around since their inception some 500 years ago to the viticulture we still find today. A viticulture that uses minimal intervention, where the vines are allow to live their lives to find their balance with their environment. Itata is a place in Chile where the spirit of the true Vigneron exists. ​

Wine Grapes
White Horse
Wine Bottling Event 2
Wine tasting and sampling
Bottling Wine
Having fun in the vineyard

Winemaking

We do not interfere with the terroir. The winemaking is very simple, using only native yeast, no corrections, and little to no sulfur additions added prior to bottling. We use cement globes and used oak barrels to mature the wines, allowing the complexity of each site to develop. We want to make honest wines with a strong sense of origin that reflects the uniqueness of the Itata Hills: freshness, natural acidity and low alcohol levels.

History

Rogue Vine is a project made by hand in Itata between friends and friends of friends !

We had the desire to make different wines, wines with character! To achieve this we had to first find vineyards with character, find Terroir units with character and make the wines in a different way. There was no other option!

The forgotten old vineyards at the head of the dry land, almost falling apart, hanging on the granite hills of Itata were the perfect setting to put our ideas into practice.

Nowadays, what we have found in Itata is a great joy for us ! We have found a different Terroir and some vineyards that escape the norm, we have found Rogue vines.

Historical Itata Wine Growers
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