In the early 1900s our family patriarch Carl John Kingston packed his belongings and set out on a multi-month journey from Central Mine, Michigan to Chile in search of copper and gold. In 1906, the "grandfather" ("Gramps") joined the Cerro de Pasco Mining Company as an engineer and traveled throughout South America in search of his mother lode.
Although he never found gold, CJ discovered an extensive dairy and cattle farm 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean, in the western foothills of the Casablanca Valley, Chile. With his new wife Caroline Los Kamp, CJ settled in the management house of "La Granja".
1930 - 1960
After attending college in the United States, John, the oldest son of CJ and Caroline, returned to Chile to manage and control La Granja. According to family history, John graduated from Harvard on a Wednesday, married Janet Wilson on a Thursday, and left for Chile on a Friday. They settled in Casablanca next to the “old corral” and raised five children in La Granja during the 1940s and 1950s.
CJ Kingston II describes what it was like to grow up in Casablanca during this period for the third generation of Kingstons: “We live in a unique universe… There was a distinctive bond between us because we were in this together. They taught us about school, work, animals, God, Puritan ethics, and baseball. And we never deal with gangs, drugs, or girls. ”
With the 90s came another generation of Kingstons and new possibilities for La Granja. While in graduate school at Stanford University, Courtney Kingston wrote a business plan that had little to do with ranching and traditional farm activities: she wanted to plant a vineyard in the far hills west of Casablanca.
By planting their first vines in 1998, the Kingstons went for pinot noir and syrah in a valley known exclusively for white wines. Inspired by vineyard leaders like Hirsch and Pisoni, they planted a vineyard on the hill and risked the future of cold-weather reds. In 2003, they managed to obtain 400 cases of Pinot Noir and Syrah wine under their own Kingston Family Vineyards label, with which they could demonstrate the potential of world-class wines from the Chilean coast.
Today, Viña Kingston has been recognized as “among the best vineyards in Chile” (Stephen Tanzer) and for “making one of the best pinot wines in Chile” (Food & Wine). In 2011, the Kingstons were selected to host a James Beard dinner in New York City and were named a Wine Cellar of the Year by Wine & Spirits magazine. His wines have been featured on the wine lists of distinguished restaurants including Jean Georges in New York and the Four Seasons in London.
Almost 100 years after CJ Kingston ventured to Chile, the cows still graze in the fields, the gold is still buried deep and the fifth generation of Kingstons grows surrounded by wine vines in the Casablanca hills.