Jorge Lopez, owner of Cava del Pescador
Jorge López, owner of Cava del Pescador

It was one of those bright winter days of beautiful sunshine but freezing temperatures in Viña del Mar. I’d spent most of the morning standing in queues in different banks around town, so I was glad to get to the Cava del Pescador shop and sit down. Owner Jorge López says his goal is to make his new wine store feel welcoming and he certainly achieves that. The place is cosily inviting with its wooden floors and shelves of intriguing bottles.

Looking into Cava del PescadorBut probably the biggest asset is Jorge himself with his quietly affable and friendly manner. He told me that many people like to come in and just talk and so he takes the time to listen to them, whether they want to give him their point of view on politics or discuss wine. “Some of them leave without buying anything, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe they’ll come back another time or tell their friends about the friendly wine store.”

The store is run along similar lines to its namesake, the Cava del Pescador in Concepción. It offers wines from smaller and less well-known Chilean producers; you won’t find much overlap with the wines you can buy in the supermarkets or established chains like Vinoteca. And with many bottles in the 9,000 to 20,000 pesos bracket, this wine store won’t appeal to those on a very tight budget.

But if you’re looking for something rather special, you may well find it here. There are some real hard-to-track-down gems, like Pandolfi Price Los Patricios Chardonnay, consistently rated among Chile’s best Chardonnays by the likes of Decanter magazine.

Glasses lined up for Cava del Pescador tasting

A different winemaker is invited to present his or her wines at an informal tasting event each week, usually on a Thursday evening. There are 25 spaces for each tasting, booked on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of 5,000 pesos per person. The format is very informal and clearly popular, with many tastings oversubscribed. Everyone stands around a central table with a platter of nibbles and tastes each wine, while the winemaker tells them a little about what they are tasting. I went along to a tasting of Kingston Family Vineyard wines, an hour-long session including 4 wines. It seemed to be a good way to get to try different wines and see what you like.

The store opened in late January, so it’s early days yet, but Jorge and his wife have plenty of plans for the future: “we’d like to open a wine bar, where people can have a glass of wine and a platter of food. But first, we’re planning to hold a wine fair, hopefully in November. And we’re going to do it right, avoiding the mistakes of the other events, where people have to fight to get to the stands and everyone ends up drinking too much as there are no spittoons and not enough food.”

For a long time, the Viña and Valparaíso area had very little choice for wine-lovers, so the arrival of this new store with a very different range of wines and lots of wine-related events is very welcome. I, for one, hope that Jorge´s business prospers as more choice for consumers can only be positive.

Wine brands to watch out for at Cava del Pescador Viña del Mar:

Casa Marín, Kingston Family Vineyards, Pandolfi Price, Schwaderer, Kingston Family Vineyards, de los Viñateros Bravos, Bodegas Re.

More information about Cava del Pescador:

Posts featuring wines stocked at Cava del Pescador:

Seductively fruity Cinsault wine from Chile

On the road with 80 harvests

Casa Marín Wine Tasting

Pinot Noir wine – love it or hate it?

Casablanca winery visits: Kingston

Casablanca winery visits: Bodegas Re

Chile-based British expat Guy Hooper

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