The Correa clan, San Vicente and Cauquenes

The Correa clan, San Vicente and Cauquenes

Boomers might remember “Leave It to Beaver,” the 1950s sitcom about the perfect all-American family of the Eisenhower years. The program was sweet enough to give a person a toothache, but one thing for sure, the tight little unit worked: lots of white teeth, love, and just enough mischief to spice up the action. The word “dysfunctional” had not been invented yet.

Santiago Correa

The Correa clan is Chile’s response to the Cleavers – only more so. There are eight of them: the irrepressible Santiago, Sr, hyperkinetic, wacky, and wise; and his wife, the warm, lovely Ana Maria, the glue of the operation. The happy couple produced six firebrand offspring: Santiago, Jr., Francisco, Tomas, Anita, Andres, and Catarina, each one bright, beautiful, funny, fun-loving, and accomplished. It would be easy to go green-eyed over their disproportionate share of the pie, but when you are welcomed into their home, wined, dined, teased, and hugged, a person would have to be made out of stone not to melt.

We met the Correas three years ago, when Vivien Jones brought us to a dinner at their hacienda in San Vicente, one of five properties where they have vineyards and grow olives and table fruit. At the end of the wine-soaked evening, Clint and I extended an invitation to Telluride. It seemed only right. Tomas jumped at the opportunity to polish his English. Once dates were nailed down, we tackled the logistics of finding him a host family and work.

Elaine and Damon Demas became Tomas’s host family, and he became a big brother to their kids, Xanthe and Sam. Living in the Ski Ranches, he also became close friends with neighbors Bertrand and Laura Marchal. Collectively the group shared lots of outdoor adventures, including a major rafting trip. Last November, the Marchals joined the Demases when they visited Tomas in Chile.

Among the odd jobs we were able to arrange, Tomas got to help out Polly Leach-Lychee. Polly, one of Damon’s partners at Telluride Properties , is an expert horsewoman who does “3-Day Eventing.” Tomas grew up on horses: like generations of Correas, he plays polo. In fact, one of his father’s dreams is to create a resort modeled on Dunton Hot Springs at another of the family properties near the southern town of Cauquenes, where guests would learn/practice polo under Santiago’s direction, trail ride, or hike on trails covering the 1,500 acres.

We finished our days in Cauquenes on this trip with major feasts, including grilled local fish and meat, sides of local veggies, topped off with Santiago’s rich Cab.

Ana Maria and Clint

Lots of sun and very little rain in the area add up to the brand of stress ideal for growing fabulous grapes, as well as other fruits and vegetables. (At the market, local strawberries were literally the size of my fist and asparagus stalks doubled as baseball bats.) Savvy European winemakers are now aggressively buying land in Cauquenes and the area is about to pop as another high profile growing district.

After San Vicente and Cauquenes, we spent our last weekend in Chile at the Correas’ apartment in Santiago, where we continued to be spoiled silly by a family that appears too good to be true but isn’t.

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