In Memoriam Christian Villamor
(by Cees van Casteren MW)
Christian Villamor. The most passionate winemaker of Bolivia and the best company around. I was lucky enough to be his coach and friend and the void created by the sudden death of someone as beloved as Christian is still hard to grasp.
I met Christian by chance during my very first trip to Bolivia in 2010. Although I had only few days in Tarija, he convinced me immediately to a visit of the Cinti Valley. According to Christian, the most beautiful wine valley in the world. And, although he hadnâ€™t seen many wine valleys in the world at that time, he was absolutely right. He toured me around and introduced me to all winemakers and people involved in the sector. I noticed that everyone liked Christian, and that he had a great relationship with his colleagues; sure enough, he was a very kind and sweet person.
At that first trip in 2010 he also let me taste his own wine and asked me whether we could export it. It was almost difficult to say that it wasnâ€™t yet â€“because he was such a kind person.
After 2010 I have witnessed Christianâ€™s drive to become a winemaker and build his own winery. I was literally involved, month by month. He asked me where to go for traineeships and how to find equipment and contacts in Europe. And the winery was built and the equipment was bought. Christian also went abroad in Europe for training. He believed in VischoqueĂ±a and Missionera and was convinced he would make decent wine with it. Thatâ€™s why I am so happy that he got his first prize, his first recognition for his wines, just a few weeks before he unexpectedly passed away.
I donâ€™t know what to expect in the eternal wine cellars in the sky. No one does. Whether it is a ‘choir practice in a jeweller’s shop’, as George Orwell imagined it, a place where you catch up with friends and family, or a winery with a great view and a sublime cellar? But I do know that the idea of that reunion and the well stocked wine cellar would suit my dear friend Christian.
Please rest in peace, my dear friend.