In the early 1900s our family patriarch, Carl John Kingston, packed up his belongings and made the months-long journey from Central Mine, Michigan to Chile in search of copper and gold. In 1906, "Gramps" joined the Cerro de Pasco Mining Company as an engineer, and traveled throughout South America scouting for his mother lode.
Although he never struck gold, C.J. unearthed a large dairy and cattle ranch 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the western hills of Chile's Casablanca Valley. With his new wife Caroline Los Kamp, C.J. settled in the casa patronal on "The Farm."
Late 1930s to early 1960s
After attending college in the United States, C.J. and Caroline's oldest son, John, returned to Chile to manage The Farm. As family lore goes, John graduated from Harvard on a Wednesday, married Janet Wilson on a Thursday, and set sail for Chile on Friday. They settled in Casablanca next to the old corral, and raised five children on The Farm in the 40s and 50s.
C.J. Kingston II described what it was like for the third generation of Kingstons growing up in Casablanca during this time: "We lived in a unique universe...There was a distinct bond between us because we were in it together. We were taught about school, work, animals, God, the Puritan ethic, and baseball. And we seemed to miss out on bullies and hoods, dope peddlers and girls."
“We are one of a handful of Chilean vineyards leveraging California viticulture and winemaking expertise to uncover the potential of our Chilean terroir”
In the 1990s
With the 1990s came another generation of Kingstons and new possibilities for The Farm. While in graduate school at Stanford University, Courtney Kingston wrote a business plan that had little to do with cattle and traditional farming: She wanted to plant a vineyard in the far western hills of Casablanca.
Planting their first grapevines in 1998, the Kingstons bet on pinot noir and syrah in a valley known exclusively for white wines. Inspired by California vineyard leaders like David Hirsch and Gary Pisoni, they planted a vineyard up in the hills and gambled on the future of cool climate reds. In 2003, they made 400 cases of pinot noir and syrah under their own Kingston Family label to showcase the potential of coastal Chile for world-class wines.
Today, Kingston Family Vineyards has been recognized as "among the best wineries in Chile" (Stephen Tanzer) and for "making some of Chile's best pinots" (Food & Wine). In 2011, the Kingstons were chosen to host a James Beard dinner in New York City, and named a Winery of the Year by Wine & Spirits Magazine. Their wines have been featured on wine lists at top restaurants including Jean Georges in New York, Boulevard in San Francisco, and the Four Seasons in London.
Almost 100 years after C.J. Kingston first ventured to Chile, cows still graze in the fields, gold remains buried deep underground, and the fifth generation of Kingstons grows up surrounded by grapevines in the Casablanca hills.