Mom and Dad left on Wednesday, April 3 at 9:55 pm, but our new guest arrived that same morning around 8 am. Our friend Brian flew to see us from Chicago. We have been friends with Brian since the late 90’s. He and Kent worked together at Columbia Capital in Alexandria, VA. He has a son and daughter the same ages as Michael and Robert. Brian is a wonderful cook and a lover of wine so back then we spent numerous evenings with his family enjoying his talents in the kitchen. He got to Santiago and had to be tired after flying all night, but he got right in our kitchen after a trip to the fish market for sea bass and salmon. The first night he cooked for us and my parents a delicious meal of Chilean sea bass, grilled cauliflower, and a potato cake with some cheese and bacon. Delicious.
Because Chile is the 5th largest exporter of wine and the 9th largest producer in the world, Brian wanted to visit some vineyards. Friday, Kent and I went with him on a vineyard tour to the Casablanca area. We were picked up by our driver and guide, Stephan, who is also a sommelier.
He is from Croatia and has lived in Chile for 7 years after marrying a Chilena. The Casablanca area is very close to us so we got out to the region in about an hour. The first vineyard we visited was a small family owned business called the Kingston Family Vineyard. Judith was the sommelier that showed us around their place. They produce very few bottles in comparison to other vineyards. They also let other small wine makers use their facilities.
The second vineyard, called “RE winery” and created by a well known wine maker in Chile named Pablo Morande was bigger and innovative in their production and their products. They grow their grapes in the traditional manner on vines up to 65 years old, and also in the ancient way of just letting them grow freely on the land. Using huge clay urns, they don’t mess with the grapes and just let them do their thing. This winery not only produces wine, but also balsamic vinegar, olive oil , and some liquors with fruit and nuts in them.
The last stop was the House of Morande’. They have a beautiful outdoor patio to eat on overlooking a beautiful scene of palm trees and grapevines. We had the tasting menu which included 5 smaller courses of a scallop topping on bread, ceviche, fish, beef cheeks, and a bite of cheesecake. After lunch we toured their facilities which were larger and appeared to be higher producers.
The day was fun and I learned a lot. The people were super friendly and very passionate about what they do. If you ever make it to Chile there are other wine areas to visit as well. I think you’ll be surprised.