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Expat couple´s unusual venture in Chiriquí
By Craig Weincek
Not only is there just one winery operating in Panama, but they don’t use grapes there. That’s right—David Feinstein and Kersti Landeck, who operate Cameo Wines in Potrerillos Arriba up in the Chiriquí highlands, proudly state that “there are no grapes in our wine.” What they do produce are unique and carefully handcrafted fruit wines. Their finca, about ten miles away from Boquete, is a small orange plantation and offered Feinstein, 55, an opportunity to pursue his lifelong hobby in a “land of eternal spring.”
In addition to oranges, Feinstein has used his science background to come up with wines made from black berries (Panama Red and Boquete Blush); passion fruit and a guanabana wine that is quite popular with the locals. With his partner Landeck (56), he has also made wine using mangos, pineapples and tomatoes, a top seller. Feinstein also claims to have invented a wine using no fruit at all. It’s called Oatilla the Nun and is made from oatmeal and vanilla.
Just over a year ago, Feinstein came down with CIDP, a chronic inflammatory condition that has left him wheelchair bound. While Landeck has picked up much of the physical slack, the two continue to come up with small bottling of totally unique vintages, since there is not even an attempt to reproduce the exact same wine as they did before. Their artisan wines are naturally fermented and are sulphide free with no chemical additives. Feinstein is proud that “no poisons of any kind will ever be used on the land or in our products.” According to Feinstein, “pure naturally fermented fruit, clean water and locally grown cane sugar are the basis for our unique wines.” In fact, “Cameo Wines is committed to recycling.” For every returned CW bottle, their customers are paid 25 cents, and the bottles are reused.
Author’s note: I’m usually not fond of fruit wines because they are often way too sweet; somewhat like bottled wedding cake. The Cameo Wines I tasted however were quite dry and smooth. When I spoke to Feinstein about it, he told me that was exactly his intention.
As of yet, Cameo Wines does not ship any of their limited product, but Boquete residents and visitors can participate by arranging a tasting at their place of business, home or special event by calling (507) 6693-7976. Tastings and an opportunity to purchase the latest vintage can also be found every Tuesday morning at the popular expat market held at the Boquete Community Players Theater and Event Center just across the Feria Bridge near downtown. Cameo Wines can also sometimes be found at the Friday market in Volcan. On the first Sunday of every month, the wines are for sale at the Chiriquí Storage flea market. Starting December 1 when the Boquete Tour/Information and Education Center opens, there are plans to stick the wines on their shelves.
For more information, go to www.cameowinesofpanama.com.