But Cousiño-Macul isn’t the only wine associated with O’Higgins. Enter John MacKenna (or Seán Mac Cionath in Gaelic) born in Clogher, Co. Tyrone, the son of William MacKenna and Eleanor O’Reilly and, on his mother’s side, a nephew to Count Alejandro O’Reilly. In October 1796, Juan MacKenna left Spain for South America: first Buenos Aires, then Mendoza, then Chile and, finally, Peru. Once in Lima, he contacted Bernardo’s father, then Viceroy of Peru, who named him Governor of Osorno and put him in charge of the reconstruction works for that southern Chilean town. Both Irishmen were loyal to Spain, though Juan MacKenna had good relations with Bernardo and was instrumental in allying himself with O’Higgins during the Chilean War of Independence. For his heroism, MacKenna was named Commandant General in the Chilean army. Today, that heroism is commemorated by the production of The McKenna Collection of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Viña Undurraga. So on your next trip to Chile, just remember that every sip of Undurraga or Macul is not only a sip for the Chileans, but for the Irish as well.
Editor’s note: This story was completed before Chile experienced the earthquake of February 27.
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