Courtney Kingston
 
September 17, 2014 | Courtney Kingston

A New Look for Kingston Wine Labels

New Kingston Wine Labels

Courtney Kingston is the founder of Kingston Family Vineyards. While she usually lives in northern California, this year she, her husband Andy Pflaum, and their three daughters are living in Santiago, Chile.

This past year was our 10th vintage at Kingston Family Vineyards.  We've been farming in the Casablanca Valley for five generations, and our family tends to take the "long view" on things.  For the last decade, we've been steadily zeroing in on how to make the best wines possible in the western hills of Casablanca.  Much has stayed consistent for us -- our commitment to leveraging the best of Californian and Chilean techniques to make small lots of wines that reflect the terroir and climate of the western Casablanca Valley; our focus on pinot noir, syrah and sauvignon blanc;  and the leadership of our longtime winemaker Evelyn Vidal and consulting winemaker Byron Kosuge.

In the past 10 years, we also haven't changed the design of our wine label -- a distinctly short, rectangular front label with an abstract etching of our 1880's house on our Chilean farm -- which has been essentially the same since our first vintage in 2003.  But with this month's release of our 2013 pinot noirs to our mailing list, our newest wines will have an new look, which you can see pictured below.

Why change?  Our main reason for the update is to better balance the display of the horse name we provide to each wine -- such as Alazan for our flagship pinot noir, or Cariblanco for our sauvignon blanc -- with our name, Kingston Family Vineyards.  Over the years we've received feedback from fans and sommeliers that they wanted us to increase the visibility of the Kingston Family name & logo, yet not give up the horse-name motif.  So to better accommodate both our family name and each wine's name, we've increased the size of the label, and in so doing have also updated the label design.  We hope you like it.

Most important of course, is that what's in the bottle this year and in the next decade is of the same caliber and aspiration as our wines of the past decade.  And we're confident we're delivering on that.

 

Courtney Kingston

 

P.S. Our new label features the horse names in a script reminiscent of the handwriting of the Kingston family patriarch, Carl John Kingston ("CJ"), who came to Chile in the early 1900s as a mining engineer.  These horse names were written for the new labels by my father and CJ's grandson, Michael Kingston, who grew up on the farm in the 1940s & '50s, and who remains very active today in the family farm and winery.

Time Posted: Sep 17, 2014 at 10:07 AM
Eliana Arredondo
 
September 10, 2014 | Eliana Arredondo

36 Hours in Santiago

Following her graduation from Stanford in the summer of 2012, Eliana Arredondo (Kingston's Marketing Manager) lived and worked in Chile for 9 months. These are her recommendations for 36 hours in Santiago.

A great thing to do when you first arrive in a new city, whether you’re traveling there or settling into living there, is to orient yourself. The best way I’ve found to do this is through a walking tour of the city. Many larger cities, and even some smaller ones, offer free* walking tours, of the city you’re visiting. They're usually offered in English and lead by city locals. The benefit is that you immediately know where things are located in the city and many of the neighborhoods, making you much less likely to get lost later in your stay. Additionally, you see a lot of the city in a short time, it’s a great place to meet other travelers, especially if you’re traveling solo, and it’s good exercise!

Chile's Congressional building, one of the historical buildings seen on the city tour

City Tour

In Santiago, I took the Good Morning Stgo! tour guided by Spicy Chile which takes you through much of the city's downtown historical buildings and ends at the base of one of Santiago's most famous sights, the Cerro San Cristóbal.

Cerro San Cristobal

One of two famous hills in Santiago, the Cerro San Cristóbal is the taller of the two and you must take a gondola to reach its peak. More adventurous visitors, who are not afraid to sweat or not short on time, can hike up to the top. From there you’ll take in great panoramic views of Santiago and have the chance to see up close the large Virgin Mary statue that watches over the city.

View of Santiago from the Cerro San Cristobal

Barrio Bellavista

If you're tired after the tour (it is a long walk!) you can head to Patio Bellavista for lunch or a nice drink at one of Bellavista's trendy restaurants, just down the street from the Cerro San Cristobal. Restaurant recommendations include: The White Rabbit (American style food, mixed drinks and MOVI wines) and Backstage Life (Italian style pizza and great artisan beers from Chile).

La Chascona

Once you've had lunch and a little rest you can double back to see the hill and Pablo Neruda's house in Santiago, La Chascona. Built almost into the side of the Cerro San Cristobal, La Chascona is shaped something like a ship and was constructed for the poet's third wife and then lover, Matilde Urrutia. Tours of the museum are offered daily and can be taken in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French or German and though the website says no reservations are required, I recommend checking in before lunch to put your name on the list, just in case.

Cerro Santa Lucia

Once you've enjoyed your tour there, you can head over to the Cerro Santa Lucia which is not quite as high as the Cerro San Cristobal but getting to the top is not quite as easy. There’s no gondola and the last part is a series of steep and sometimes uneven stone steps to the miradoro or lookout point which presents different views of the city than the Cerro San Cristobal. The architecture on the hill, however, make it all worth the effort. On one side of the hill you’ll find a European style courtyard and steps with a Neptune fountain (pictured) leading up to other points of interest. Nearer to the top of the hill you’ll find a grassy courtyard with small fountains, all with a great view and perfect for sitting and relaxing a bit.

Terraza Neptuno, Cerro Santa Lucia

Feria Artesanal Santa Lucia

Across from the Cerro Santa Lucia is the Feria Artesanal Santa Lucia, a great place to purchase gifts for your friends and family. Less touristy than other markets in the city, namely Los Dominicos which is also beautiful but a bit of a trek, this market offers a plethora of stands selling typically Chilean goods including cooper, lapislazuli, leatherworks and more.  I found some beautiful pieces ranging from purses to children’s clothing detailed with indigenous Chilean designs at reasonable prices.

Once you've finished your shopping, it should be around dinner time or time for a rest before you check out one of our favorite restaurants in Santiago which we've written about in detail here.

Barrio Lastarria

The next morning, be sure and head over to one of Santiago's up and coming neighborhoods, Lastarria.  As you enter into the barrio you'll see stands  of people selling antiques, old books and clothing and artisan crafts which are fun to peruse as you head to one of the barrio's cafes. We especially like Cafe Wonderful for a cup of coffee (or a bagel) or even delicious mango lassi which they also have as a menu item.

Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM)

The GAM or the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center

Then, on your way out of Lastarria don’t forget to take the time to see the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral or GAM as it is affectionately known. Formerly the headquarters of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s cruel regime, the place has been transformed into a cultural center named for one of Chile’s most famous poets and nobel prize winner Gabriela Mistral. There you can see movies, plays, dance performances, concerts and all forms of art. That’s not to mention the work of art that is the building itself with its patterned copper covering, open spaces and beautiful and unexpected stained glass ceiling! Pick up a program of events and mull it over in the center’s Café Público which serves up coffee and simple on-the-go Chilean food.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Then, if you still have some time left, walk the couple of blocks to see the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, another work of art building which may even be more beautiful than the art it contains.

Though you'll feel like you've seen a lot, rest assured you've gotten only the tip of the iceberg of this great metropolitan city. Look for our next post for more advice on where to go if you've got a bit more time on your hands.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

*The tours are free but you'll need to tip your guide as they are paid only from the tips they receive.

Update: Kingston was recently featured in Hemispheres magazine's piece on 3 perfect days in Santiago. In addition to a nice review of our Pinot Noir and Bayo Oscuro Syrah the article is another fine resource for things to do in Santiago.

Courtney Kingston
 
March 18, 2014 | Courtney Kingston

Our 2014 Spring Release is Here

Dear Friends,
Early this morning, I went for a walk in Las Condes, our new neighborhood in Santiago. Our late summer mornings here are beautifully brisk and quiet. It’s my favorite time of day to explore, and reminds me of walks I took at daybreak through the hills of San Francisco when I first moved to California 22 years ago.

My husband Andy and I have moved our family to Chile for the year. Our three daughters are attending a girls’ primary school a few blocks away in Santiago, with their Chilean cousins. They dutifully (sometimes not so dutifully) wear their navy uniform dresses to school each day, and paso a paso are improving their Spanish on the playground and in their lenguaje class.

Ratings and Awards

Our vineyard is an easy hour’s drive west toward the coast. It will be a treat to watch summer fade into fall, fall fold into winter, winter burst into spring. Living in the US, I’ve “dropped in” every couple months to Casablanca for 10 days here, two weeks there—but rarely had the chance to watch the farm gradually shift with the seasons. 2014 will be an opportunity to explore and experience Chile in a new way.

This spring, we’re releasing our 2012 Bayo Oscuro Syrah, our 2012 Lucero Syrah, our 2012 Bayo Oscuro CJ's Barrel Syrah and our newest 2013 Cariblanco Sauvignon Blanc. As always, they are 100% estate grown and bottled on our family’s vineyard in the Casablanca Valley. And if you’d like to revisit our Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay released last fall, small quantities remain—just let us know.

How to Order Wine

To order wine, please visit our website. Old Corral Club members receive advance allocations of their personalized wine selection, a 10% discount on all orders, and complimentary tastings in Casablanca. To join the Corral, please call us to learn more or sign up online. We also offer free shipping on one case or more.

We only send release letters twice a year, but on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest you can get more frequent updates on Kingston. Read the latest on our harvest, hear the birds in the vineyard, and get travel recommendations for your next trip to Chile.

We hope you enjoy drinking these wines as much as we’ve enjoyed making them.

Sending our family’s best from Chile.

¡Saludos!

Courtney Kingston

Time Posted: Mar 18, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Courtney Kingston
 
February 26, 2014 | Courtney Kingston

My Chile

First in a series of posts by Courtney Kingston (Founder, Kingston Family Vineyards) about her year in Chile.

I write from a flight to Chile, embarking on a new adventure. For the past 10+ years, I’ve been traveling to our family’s vineyard in Casablanca four to five times per year from the San Francisco Bay Area. I usually fly with Byron (Kosuge, our Napa-basedconsulting winemaker), and/or meet my father Michael in Dallas to continue the 10-hour flight down to Santiago. My trips usually last around a week to 10 days, and then I return home to my family in northern California. In many ways, this month’s trip is like many others this time of year. Byron and I are headed south to check on the 2013 pinot noir and chardonnay blends before bottling. We’ll also be surveying the vineyard in anticipation of the upcoming 2014 harvest in March. The big difference is this: Byron flies home midweek, and I’ll stay to live in Chile for the balance of the year.

My husband Andy and our young daughters (ages 8, 6, and 4) arrive this weekend. We have rented an apartment in Santiago, where Annie, Louisa and Caroline will attend an all-girls’ school nearby with their Chilean cousins. I brought back the girls’ navy school uniforms after my November trip, which they eyed cautiously (especially Annie who “doesn’t wear dresses”). They were more easily enthused when Andy and I talked up the ascensor in our El Golf apartment building. (Clearly an elevator is a bit of urban glamour for kids used to living the more rural and suburban setting of Portola Valley, California.) For the past two months, Andy and the older girls have been cramming Duolingo online Spanish lessons together. While Andy hopes the lessons will temper the girls’ adjustment to an all-Spanish speaking school, the girls are clearly in it to spend time with their father on the sofa.

The vineyard will be an easy hour’s drive on the Costanera Norte to Casablanca to visit the winery during the week. It will be a treat to watch summer fade into fall, fall fold into winter, winter burst into spring. Living in the US, I’ve always “dropped in” to Casablanca for 10 days here, 10 days there—rarely having the chance to watch the farm gradually shift with the seasons. Andy and I are planning a weekly date night to explore the food scene in Santiago, which has been coming of age lately. When we made our first Kingston Family wines over ten years ago, the local sommelier community was virtually non-existent. Now a connoisseurship of wine is developing in restaurants in Chile, and artisan wineries like ours are newly embraced.

We hope to spend many weekends at the farm as a family, gathering eggs from the chickens and hiking in the western Casablanca hills. When we’re not on the farm, we hope to explore greater Chile—and discover it in a whole new way. I’m always struck by the fact that Chile is as long as the United States is wide. Given my family’s five generations farming in Casablanca and my frequent trips south, many friends consider me to be quite knowledgeable about Chile. But in fact I know a lot more about our farm in Casablanca. My other travels to Patagonia were 15 years ago, before our vineyard’s inaugural harvest in 2001. This year will be all about depth and discovery. I have much to see and learn. I can’t wait to get started.

Time Posted: Feb 26, 2014 at 11:09 AM
Courtney Kingston
 
January 24, 2014 | Courtney Kingston

Wine Named After a Horse

Horses are very important to the Kingston Family and have been on our farm for generations.  Half working horses, half wild horses, the Kingston caballos are beloved by all on the Farm.  Most of the time they’re occupied with reducing our risk of wildfires by gobbling up all the dry grass in the hills.  Other times we take them on rides around the Farm to soak in the natural landscapes of the Casablanca Valley, stirring them from their resting place down next to the Old Corral for which we named our Old Corral Club. Sometimes they surprise us, emerging from the fog, right above the winery.  Allowing us a peek of them as they amble about the hills munching diligently.

While growing up on the farm, my uncle Peter had a favorite horse named Alazan de Paso, for the characteristic deep red--almost burgundy--color of his coat and mane.  Years later, when we were deciding what to name our flagship wine, similarly deep red in color, we decided Alazan was the perfect fit.  We soon discovered that other names inspired by our Chilean horses' coats worked for our other wines and embodied the Kingston farm and our love of horses.  We continued the theme with all our wines, not just Alazan but also Bayo Oscuro, Tobiano, Lucero, Cariblanco and Sabino.

We're often asked by guests at our winery to point out a descendant of Alazan and other horses on our farm.  Below are some pictures taken by our friend and photographer, Elisabeth Calmes.  On the day Liz visited, a pack of our horses had come down from the hills and was grazing within a stone's throw of the winery.

Alazan - Referred to as a chestnut horse in English, it simply means the horse is  brown in color and completely devoid of any black hairs, the Spanish meaning assumes a more copper or reddish color coat.

Bayo Oscuro - With the same characteristics of a bay horse, the Bayo Oscuro or Dark Bay in English, has the unique quality of a very dark red or dark brown coat.

 

Tobiano - A pinto or painted horse whose coat is a patchwork of large brown and white spots. Typical characteristics include legs which are white from about the knees and down, a brown face and a white tail.

Sabino - Sadly unphotographed at the time of this publishing, a Sabino is another variety of painted horse characterized by a relatively solid colored coat which is mottled or speckled in some places, especially the belly.

Lucero - Referring not to the color of the horse’s coat in this instance, a Lucero is a horse which has a white star or diamond shaped marking on its forehead.

Cariblanco - As with the Sabino horse, unfortunately, we could not find a Cariblanco horse on the Farm the day Liz visited. Its name means “White faced horse”.

Time Posted: Jan 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM
Courtney Kingston
 
October 11, 2013 | Courtney Kingston

Spotlight on Pilar

Beakers of grape juice (must) arranged by Pilar to be tested

At Kingston we’re fortunate to have a small team, many of whom have worked on our vineyard or our farm for years if not decades.   In many ways, everyone feels like an extended member of the Kingston family---some with stories that go back generations in Casablanca, and others who have called our small corner of Chile home more recently.  We thought it would be fun to continue to share the stories of the people behind Kingston---this month telling you more about Pilar Jara, our enologist at the winery.

Courtney watches as Pilar measures out grape must to be tested

Pilar grew up in Concepción, Chile’s second largest city after Santiago, located about a six hour drive south of Santiago.  (Most recently, Concepción made national headlines in 2010 when an 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit nearby).  When Pilar turned fifteen, her family moved north to the Casablanca Valley in search of work.  They settled in Casablanca for a few years, but her parents ultimately returned to Concepción. Pilar chose to stay behind. In 2005, she came to Kingston to work harvest and pick wine grapes as part of our vineyard manager, Patricio Monsalva’s team. Pilar made a name for herself with her dedication and can-do enthusiasm, and soon caught the eye of Evelyn Vidal, our winemaker.

Pilar driving the tractor during harvest at Kingston.

In late 2005, we broke ground on our own small winery at Kingston. (Prior to that, we had been making our small-lot wines in a small rincón (corner) at our neighbor's winery, Casas del Bosque.)  Evelyn asked Pilar to join the founding crew at the winery for the 2006 harvest.  That year Pilar quickly learned to do every job from punch downs and pump overs to driving the forklift (which you can see her doing in the picture below if you look closely at the mirror).  She learned almost every facet of winemaking through her hands-on experience in the vineyard and the winery.  With Evelyn as her mentor, Pilar soon took on all the enology work in our winery’s small laboratory. There she studied each vintage’s fermentations and young wines in barrel, always keeping our team appraised of each tank or barrel’s composition---an important and key part of top quality winemaking.

Three years ago, Pilar took the initiative to invest further in her career by studying in the evenings at the Universidad de Playa Ancha in Valparaíso. With our support, she’s been pursuing a degree in Chemical Analysis and will graduate later this year. On top of her studies and full time work at the winery, Pilar has raised two boys, Felipe and Diego. We couldn’t be more proud of  Pilar. She is a treasured member of our family and team, and an inspiration for us all. When you come visit us in Casablanca, say a special hello to Pilar. Along with the rest of the team at Kingston, she’ll look forward to welcoming you.

Time Posted: Oct 11, 2013 at 11:39 AM
Courtney Kingston
 
September 19, 2013 | Courtney Kingston

Welcome to the Fall Release!

Dear Friends, Ten years ago, few friends would take me up the invitation to visit us in Casablanca. Admittedly, Chile is a long way away from much of the world.  The flights to Santiago were barely half-full (this had its benefits: I depended on my “C” seat always becoming “C+D+E” for the overnight flight).

But in 2011, the New York Times named nearby Santiago #1 in its “Places to Go in 2011,” and then National Geographic Traveler praised our neighboring Valparaíso in its “Best Trips 2013.” Things changed.

Like our handmade wines, a visit to Kingston is still—and will always be—an intimate experience.  All tastings and tours are private, by appointment only. Old Corral members are complimentary.  Here’s what a few guests have said on TripAdvisor about their time with us in Casablanca:

“A truly behind-the-scenes experience. I would highly recommend [Kingston] to anyone looking to go off the beaten path and experience something remarkable.”

“Of all the places we visited in and around Santiago,our trip to Kingston was the highlight.”

“A tour only surpassed by the wine.”

How to Order Wine

To order wine, please visit our website. Old Corral Club members receive advance allocations of their personalized wine selection, a 10% discount on all orders, and complimentary tastings in Casablanca. To join the Corral, please call us to learn more or sign up online. We also offer free shipping on one case or more.

We only send release letters twice a year, but on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest you can get more frequent updates on Kingston. Read the latest on our harvest, hear the birds in the vineyard, and get travel recommendations for your next trip to Chile.

This fall, we’re releasing our newest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay, including the 2012 Alazan Pinot Noir ($32) and 2012 Tobiano Pinot Noir ($20).  Old Corral members will also enjoy exclusive bottlings of the 2012 Alazan CJ’s Barrel Pinot Noir ($38) and the much anticipated 2012 Sabino Chardonnay ($24).  We hope you enjoy drinking these wines as much as we’ve enjoyed making them.

Sending our family’s best from Casablanca, and we’ll look forward to welcoming you south someday soon.

¡Saludos!

Courtney Kingston

Time Posted: Sep 19, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Courtney Kingston
 
August 28, 2013 | Courtney Kingston

Wineries to Visit in Casablanca

One of the most common questions we get from our friends and guests to our family's winery is "what other wineries should I visit on my day trip to Casablanca?"   We thought we'd do a post on our favorite recommendations of neighboring wineries---where we like to go ourselves on a day off.  They all share our focus on handcrafted wines, and we can testify first-hand of their gracious hospitality.  It's not an exhaustive list, but instead we hope a reliable short list of other Casablanca wineries you'll enjoy visiting as much as Kingston.

As a side note, like us, these wineries are small and usually unable to keep a full time visit staff so tours must be booked in advance by at least a day to ensure tour availability.  For those tours with lunch options, even more time might be necessary to plan your visit.  In general, the rule is the more in advance you book your tour, the better.  We've also made sure that at all the wineries we mention here have tours in both English and Spanish and sometimes other languages. ---Eliana Arredondo

Alejandra Gutiérrez of Loma Larga showing the vines that grow over the bodega.

Loma Larga

A wonderful winery, you’ll be warmly welcomed to Loma Larga by their tour guide, Alejandra Gutiérrez who will take you on a walk around the small family-owned winery that is doing great things with cool climate reds and whites.  The winery, which sits far into the ranch owned by the Díaz family is a lovely setting with lots of fruit trees and a neat underground bodega which has grapevines growing on its roof.  The tour ends in a tasting of five wines in one of the cosy little houses they have near the bodega and which have been converted into tasting rooms.  One of my favorite things about the tour here was Alejandra's extensive knowledge of the winemaking process and of wines in general having taken several sommelier courses.  Chilean, she's also trained as a translator and is fluent in at least three languages, Spanish, English and French and loves to practice her French with any of you francophones out there.  Also, I'm a huge fan of their Chilean Malbec (named by Descorchados as the best Malbec in Chile) so when you're scheduling a visit, ask in advance if you can try it.

To make reservations, go to their website or you can email Alejandra at tienda@lomalarga.com

Rodrigo Gómez at Bodegas RE with a glass of their white pinot noir.

Bodegas RE

The latest winery to be opened by Pablo Morandé, the winemaker/"discoverer" of Casablanca as a winemaking valley, they not long ago opened for tours.  More than just a winery, they also produce balsamic vinegar and flavored alcohols which are sold in their shop, reminiscent of a small Italian cantina filled with countless other products made in Chile.  In terms of wine, however, one of the most unique things about the wine they produce is that it is fermented only in oak barrels, clay pots and even larger clay tanks, which makes for an exciting tour. You can even plan to have lunch inside their wine cave among the clay barrels which you won’t find anywhere else in the stainless steel dominated Casablanca Valley.  Even more interesting than the manner in which Bodegas RE produces its wines are the wines themselves.  Full of strange and intriguing combinations, one of their most interesting wines, which I fell in love with, was their $25.000 CLP ($50 USD) white pinot noir called REvelation.  Discovered by accident by the winemakers, this wine has gone on to win numerous awards in Chile and abroad.  With the nose of a fine port, this white pinot noir tastes like you’re drinking pinot noir with a rather strange but not unpleasant twist.

To make reservations, go to their website or you can email at contacto@bodegasre.cl

The first stop on the Quintay tour in and around the winery.

Quintay

Also somewhat new to the tourism scene in Casablanca Valley, Quintay opened its doors to guests in early 2012.  A co-op of wineries throughout the Casablanca valley, Quintay blends of berries of the same varietal from their different vineyards to craft delicious wines and a diverse tour experience.  The tours, which are planned by their young tour guide, Rocio, lead you on small circuit in and around the winery, so be sure to bring your walking shoes.  You’ll get to see some of their newest grape vines which are all organic and the unique architecture of the winery which lets in enough sun for them to use natural light most of the working day.  You’ll also get to step onto the winery floor and taste different wines straight from the barrel. Since Quintay sources their grapes from different growers all over the valley, you’ll get to compare wines from distinct regions of Casablanca and see how much the micro climates within the valley affect the same grape varietal.  After doing some barrel tasting, you’ll get to try the wines themselves, from the bottle, and compare even further the final blends.  Excitingly, at the end of this year they're slated to start building some new visitor installations with views over the valley.

To make reservations, go to their website or you can email Rocío at turismo@quintay.com

The beautiful tiles and architecture of Casa Marín.

Casa Marín

This winery doesn’t sit in the Casablanca Valley, rather the San Antonio Valley not too far away, but is worth the trip.  With a beautiful bodega decorated with ceramic tiles made by the sister of the winery’s founder and owner, Maria Luisa (Marilu) Marín.  One of the first female winemakers in the area María Luisa resisted others protests that she was planting her vineyards too close to the sea and has survived to be a very successful winery  Her son Felipe, is now the winemaker and year after year the winery continues to win awards for its outstanding wines.  My favorite is their Sauvignon Blanc named by Descorchados as the best Sauvignon Blanc in Chile.  Reminiscent of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc theirs is fruity and so aromatic that you can smell the orange blossoms before your nose even approaches the glass.   In addition to the great wines you'll try at Casa Marín, another benefit of making the trip out to San Antonio is the restaurant, El Sauce, located in the tiny town of Lo Abarca where Casa Marín sits and Casa Marin’s beautiful bungalow, which is, as mentioned in our blog post on hotels in Chile, a great place to stay if you’re in wine country.

To make reservations, go to their website or you can email Isabel at hospitality@casamarin.cl

- - - -

To visit Kingston Family Vineyards, email us at guests@kingstonvineyards.com

Time Posted: Aug 28, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Courtney Kingston
 
August 5, 2013 | Courtney Kingston

FAQ: Where Should I Eat in Santiago

This is the second post in our series which answers our friends and guests’ FAQs about Chile.  Most people  want to know the best places to eat while they’re here.  However, since we’re food lovers, this is a big list and we’ve decided to divide it into more specific FAQs like “Where should I eat when I’m in Valparaíso?” or “Where should I eat in Casablanca?”  This particular post answers the question, “Where should I eat when I’m in Santiago?”  In addition, if you're traveling to Chile you should know that dinner time is quite a bit later than in the U.S.  It usually falls somewhere between 7:30PM and 10:00PM so if you go early to a restaurant, it might not even be open before 7PM or you can expect to be eating on your own.

Astrid y Gastón*

Named one of the best restaurants in the world on multiple occasions, we have no qualms about suggesting this Peruvian restaurant in Chile. The restaurant, which can also be found in Peru and other places across the globe, has a great wine list, featuring our Cariblanco, and some of the best ceviche we've ever tried. While you’re there, don’t forget to try the Peruvian style pisco sours which differ a bit from Chilean pisco sours in that they contain egg white and a drop of bitters on top.

Aquí Está Coco*

With its eccentric, eco friendly design and delicious traditional Chilean food, this is a must go if you’re in Santiago. That is, except if you’re there in February when the restaurant closes for the entire month. In every other month, however, Chile’s national chef, Coco Pacheco, serves up delicious seafood and tasty pisco sours in addition to their extensive wine list containing a couple of the Kingston wines. We recommend trying the corvina or Chilean sea bass because after all, you’re in Santiago de Chile!

The eco-friendly design of Aquí Está Coco.

Baco

A wine bar with delicious food, this restaurant is great for trying different Chilean wines but it’s not on the high end. Many wineries from all around Chile and the Casablanca Valley are featured here along with delicious fare.

Bocanariz

Located in one of Santiago’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, Lastarria is filled with beautiful museums, architecture and gourmet food and drink.  Of all the choices in the barrio, however, we particularly recommend Bocanariz. Owned by two Chilean sommeliers and a Frenchman, who is in charge of the food, this wine bar has probably the most extensive wine list of anywhere in Santiago. For appetizers to go with your wine, try the “candies” and if you like Malbec, go for Loma Larga’s award-winning Chilean Malbec.

Liguria

Located in three different places around Santiago, Bar Liguria is a great place to go to for traditional Chilean cuisine in a homey setting where the tables are dressed in red and white checkered tablecloths and the walls are adorned in classic Chilean posters. Along with a long list of Chilean wines, you’ll also find some great Chilean beer which is becoming more popular with artisan breweries like Kross, Kunstmann and Guyacan appearing all across Chile.

The picturesque Parque Bicentenario where Mestizo is located.

Mestizo

One of our favorite restaurants in Santiago, our only regret is not going more often. In addition to gourmet Chilean food (try the ceviche!), they have some of the best cocktails we've ever tried. With strange and delicious combinations, Mestizo is worth going to if even for just the view and a nice drink. When you make reservations, be sure to ask for a table on the patio, you’ll end up overlooking the small pond in front and a beautiful sunset over Parque Bicentenario where this restaurant is located.

*Always make reservations

Time Posted: Aug 5, 2013 at 12:29 PM
Courtney Kingston
 
July 15, 2013 | Courtney Kingston

Cuatro x Cuatro

Our family began the quest to make artisan, sustainable wines from Chile’s Casablanca Valley almost twenty years ago. At the time, Chile’s forte was producing large volumes of wine at very affordable prices.  Our dream at Kingston was not to make large volumes of wine, but instead to produce artisan wines from one place---our family's farm in western Casablanca.

One of the individual blocks of grapes in the Kingston vineyards

Back in the early 90's, many smart, young chilenos were graduating from Chile’s top winemaking programs—la Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile and la Universidad de Talca.  Winemaking was a respected career in Chile, drawing on centuries of winemaking after the arrival of the Spaniards in the 1500s.  The majority of young chilenos sought jobs at large wineries that promised respected corporate structures and senior management opportunities.  Cabernet sauvignon and the Maipo Valley were king.

We hoped we were onto something in the cooler western hills of Casablanca, only 12 miles from the Pacific.   Our family decided to make a bet on pinot noir and syrah, hoping that some of the most exciting wines on Chile’s coast were still to come.  But this new frontier needed an entrepreneurial, risk-taking winemaking culture---one that did not yet exist at the time in Chile.

I (Courtney) was in graduate school at Stanford University in the mid-1990’s, and wondered if we could start an intercambio/exchange program for artisan winemakers between Chile and California.   An impressive number of Chileans winemakers already worked abroad, even outnumbering the Australians training in the U.S. at the time.  But again, everything was skewed toward big production----most chilenos worked on crews at large operations like Robert Mondavi or Kendall-Jackson making chardonnay or cabernet, preparing them well for similarly scaled wineries at home in Chile.  A limited few got the opportunity to make artisan wines on the coast under some of California’s best pinot noir winemakers.

Winemaker, Evelyn Vidal, working directly on the sorting tables.

Beginning in 2001, we started connecting winemakers both in Chile and California to create our own mini winemaker exchange program.  We worked with Edmundo Bordeu and Yerko Moreno, the chairs of the enology departments at la Católica and Talca, to identify some of the up and coming young Chilean winemakers who would seize the opportunity to mentor under a Californian winemaker making small-lot pinot.  Our hope was that these young winemakers would bring their hands-on knowledge back to Chile.  Having known our family for years, Yerko understood what we were looking for immediately:  “ustedes necesitan alguien cuatro a cuatro”  (You need someone hands-on---with four-wheel drive).   So we spread the word and looked for  winemakers that were eager to learn, dive in and get their hands stained.  We leveraged our Chilean-American family's contacts in both continents to facilitate the logistics, and created a Kingston "fellowship" to support top candidates who otherwise couldn't afford the trip.

Over the years, our exchange program and fellowship have supported Chileans to mentor under respected pinot noir winemakers such as Michael Terrien (then at Acacia), Ken Bernards at Ancien and Bob Cabral at Williams Selyem.   We're thrilled to have returning Kingston fellows like Julio Bastias settle back in Chile, and now leading the way on the coast with Matetic Vineyards (a respected pinot producer in San Antonio Valley). Ana Salomó, another fellow, returned from Williams Selyem, and now makes wine for Porta.   Along the way, we’ve also sent members of our own small team, including our own winemaker, Evelyn Vidal to Talley Vineyards and our vineyard manager, Patricio Monsalva, to Ridge Vineyards.

In 2013, we celebrated our 10th vintage at Kingston.  Looking back, we're thrilled to see how far artisan winemaking has come in Chile.   Hopefully the small seeds we began to plant years ago with our intercambio not only affected those individual winemaker's careers, but more importantly laid the foundation for world-class artisan wines from Chile.

Time Posted: Jul 15, 2013 at 12:45 PM