|The gate to Chaupi Estancia|
|Mr & Mrs Wine Guy|
enjoying a Palomino Fino!
Shortly after 2004 when red wine production began, Chaupi Estancia became one of the first international members of the California based Meritage Association and it was a version of their Meritage, "Alyce", (named for Dick's wife Alyce Denier) that actually first caught The Wine Guy's attention. As a bold red blend priced in the mid 20's, it wasn't appealing to Ecuadorians. However, when I first tried it in Quito during a visit to Ecuador more than two years ago, I was honestly a little stunned! I admired the quality of this red blend produced from grapes grown less than a thirty minute slow drive to the Equator! This winery also went on to produce what others have told me was a very pleasant and smooth Chardonnay-Viognier blend. Unfortunately, consistently growing grapes this close to the Equator sometimes proves to be somewhat of a challenge. The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon formerly utilized for the Meritage blend are nowhere to be found today on the vineyard. As a result, "Alyce" has become a conglomeration of red grapes that have managed to survive and is a shadow of its former self. The touted Chardonnay-Viognier blend became history when the otherwise healthy chardonnay vines suddenly just ceased bearing fruit.
|Pinot Noir just south of the Equator!|
While they remain owners, Dick and Alyce have now returned to their old stomping grounds in California. They also have ownership in Handal-Denier vineyards in Sonoma's Dry Creek appelation just outside Healdsburg. There, their winery produces grapes for a highly touted Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah as well as supplying grapes for an old vine Zinfandel. Their age, their absence from Ecuador, as well as the inconsistent availability of good grapes at the Ecuadorian vineyard may be signalling that time has become of the essence for Chaupi Estancia Winery. It may not have a lot of time left to rise above the few isolated bright flashes in their history and become a fully established winery and beacon for Ecuadorian wine production. They are presently in strong need of some more successes, more consistency and being able to gain better acceptance from the small but growing wine community and wine trade within Ecuador itself.
|The Wine Guy with Antoinette Cook |
of Chaupi Estancia Winery.
Viable wine production first occurred in Ecuador over 540 years ago. Hopefully, it won't take that long for someone to pick up Dick Handel's torch and carry it through to a new future for Ecuadorian wine.