My father Thierry Villard who was born in France but lived most of his youth in Switzerland and some time in England at college. He left home at 19 years old to discover the world. By the age of 20 he was in Australia and after a year he decided to go to South America. He reached Panama by boat where he got off, making his way down to Chile where he met my mother. They got married in Santiago after 7 months and then the ceremony was repeated in Paris where their adventure would start in 1972.
They bought a Volkswagen Beetle and drove their way through to Kabul in Afghanistan but had to sell the car as the war between Pakistan and India had closed the border. So they continued their journey by public transport through Asia to Singapore where they embarked on a ship to Perth in Australia and from there across the country to Melbourne in Victoria where they met up with my mother’s brother, a qualified winemaker, who had immigrated to Australia the year before, on my father’s recommendation.
Soon in 1973 Thierry started working at Orlando Wines, one of the largest Australian winery, to develop the newly created division of imported wines and spirits in Melbourne. He gained experience in sales in the On Trade, Off Trade, Mayor Customers, Wholesalers. Then he transferred as sales manager to Morris Wines, a boutique winery, subsidiary of the group, before returning to Orlando a year later as sales manager in Victoria.
In 1980 he was transferred to the head office in Adelaide as product manager in the marketing department, in charge of the Imports Division, Premium Wines and the boutique winery Morris Wines. A year later he became also the Marketing Manager for Exports, creating the Export and First Customers Department.
In 1884 he was concentrating his work on exports and leaving responsibilities for the national market. As Export Manager he establishes a network of importers, agents and distributors in Asia, Europe and the USA. He was responsible for the first media campaign outside Australia for Jacob’s Creek.
During the 70’s &the 80’s, the family went on several trips to Chile for holidays, where Thierry met again with his many acquaintances and friends in the wine industry. As time went on, he felt more and more that he should start his own wine company and that it should be in Chile. By 1988 he was convinced that the country was on a sound economic path and that the Chilean wine industry would become the “new discovery” in European markets. So by the end of 1988 he resigned and left Australia with his wife and two sons to start a new adventure in Chile.
He first worked as Export Consultant for various wineries in Chile, such as Concha y Toro and Emiliana among others. The goals were to open new markets, create world class brands and try to build the image of Chile as a producer of fine wines.
In 1989 he created Villard Fine Wines, oriented to the production of Premium wines.
In parallel he also was representing the French cooper Nadalié, and then they established a joint venture to produce barrels in Chile for the wine industry and also to choose the best oak to create and customize the best barrels for our wines. Today the cooper is a mayor actor on the Chilean market and is run by my older brother Sébastien.
Thierry’s main goal was to produce Premium whites and Pinot Noir wines, which were practically non-existent in Chile at that time: the Casablanca Valley had all the climatic attributes to produce the grape varieties which interested him. There was the additional challenge of being somewhat pioneer in a virgin territory, as in the early 90’s the Casablanca valley was totally unknown and only a few growers and wineries were showing interest in its potential.
As you can imagine y grew up in a wine environment.