Idea Lab

Devils and Superstition: the Marketing Genius of Don Melchor de Concha y Toro

Every wine region was built by a handful of pivotal brands; brands that proved game-changers of their country’s wine history, production, and international reputation. But how many countries can claim the fable of a supernatural partnership as the key to its greatest brand’s success?

One hundred and thirty years ago, a mysterious legend gave rise to the wildly successful wine company Casillero del Diablo. The story began in the late 1880s, an era of progress in Chile’s burgeoning wine industry. At the time, acclaim for Maipo Valley’s Bordeaux-style reds and Cabernet Sauvignon grew. A visionary of the late 19th century, winemaker Don Melchor de Concha Y Toro earned a reputation for crafting Chile’s finest wines.

But if robbery is a form of flattery, then Don Melchor was widely revered for his winemaking skills — thieves were frequently pilfering bottles from his cellar. In a lightning strike moment, Don Melchor crafted a rumor to protect his stock. The con: the devil himself guarded his wines. Given the propensity for people’s belief in superstitions, Don Melchor’s cellar became untouchable.

In homage to the story and Don Melchor, Casillero del Diablo released its first wine in 1968. Rich and sumptuous, the bold reds embodied the tale of the “Devil’s Cellar.” Since its debut, Casillero del Diablo has risen to become the second most powerful wine brand in the world, according to the Global Wine Brand Power Index, 2019.

Don Melchor’s wine caves remain intact beneath the Concha y Toro winery in Maipo Valley. Intrepid visitors can descend into the underground network. Passing through arched stone passageways lined with oak barrels, wine lovers can wander amidst aging Casillero del Diablo wines.

Coincidentally, the Devil’s Cellar has survived multiple earthquakes without suffering a crack. Perhaps a supernatural power protects Don Melchor’s legacy? Or maybe Casillero del Diablo is merely the devil’s preferred wine as it is for millions of global wine drinkers today.