The winery Dona Javiera comes with a story. Javiera is the name of the sister of one of Chile’s most admired freedom fighters in the early 19th century, Jose Miguel Carrera. The beautiful century-old house is a family home, and one which Carrera would use as a refuge and hideout during the civil war.
Javiera Carrera is known as the woman who sewed Chile’s first flag of independence – the Patria Vieja. Although there is much more to this woman than crafts, says Mac Mitchell who runs nearby Casona Carrera Boutique Hotel – another family home in the village. “There were four siblings in the family, and Javiera and Jose Miguel were the leaders the family. Javiera was the one who really pushed her brother into leading the revolutionary army and kick the fight into full gear. She was the real spur in his ass!”
Unfortunately Carrera and his army were defeated by the ruling forces in Mendoza, Argentina. He was quite brutally executed publicly in the city after his capture. The legacy of Jose Miguel, and his sister Javiera, remain very dear to many Chileans, and this – one of his former homes and hideouts – is declared a national heritage site.
Nowadays it is a wine refuge. Just 40 minutes outside of Santiago, Dona Javiera is located in El Monte – a rural area with a charming, sleepy plaza and handsome tall historic trees that arch over wide gardens.
The historical house was built over 200 years ago in the typical fashion of the time with long galleries and a central patio filled with aromatic orange trees. Some of the rooms are maintained in a similar style with antiques, and Javiera’s original bed.
Walking through the old house gives you an idea of the history of the place, but the wines being made are from new vines around the Central Maipo region. This family winery used to just sell the fruit to other producers, but the eldest son Jose wanted to begin creating their own family heritage and so they asked an old family friend, and a renowned winemaker, Felipe Solminihac to begin making family wines for them.
The collection today is mainly based in reds, as typical for this warmer continental climate of Maipo. Good value reds are
found in each line, but particularly recommended is trying their new icon line – a winemaker’s selection of the best barrels of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, and a blend of them all.
After wine tasting and touring around the winery, it is easy to build up an appetite and so we hopped across the village to Casona Carrera – a new boutique hotel that is also in a beautiful historic house. This home is still in the hands of the Carrera family, by the direct descendants of Javiera. For this reason you will see the family crest above the door.
The family still visit the estate on weekends and holidays, but in the meantime it is also open for overnight visitors and day time visitors who can use it as a base to explore the nearby wineries, relax in its vast grounds and to take cooking classes in Chilean cuisine.
Sitting out on the lawn overlooking the vineyards and village of El Monte below, you’ll feel a world away from Santiago and shrouded in a rich historical patrimony of Chile.