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.
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.
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.