Virginia Wine Writer Goes Missing

By Posted on Jul 14 2011 | By

Walker Elliott Rowe Published Two Books on Virginia Wine

Wandering through Virginia's Vineyards

For the better half of the last decade, Walker Elliott Rowe was a presence in Virginia wine.  He wrote two popular books on the subject—Wandering through Virginia’s Vineyards and A History of Virginia Wines—and tended a vineyard on his Rappahannock County farm.  But he has not been seen in the Old Dominion for awhile and no new wine books have been published.  What gives?

It seems Rowe has reinvented himself and is now living in Santiago, Chile.  This writer recently caught up with him via Skype—the software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet.  We chatted for an hour as he sat in a Starbucks in Santiago.  He discussed his new life and why Virginia wine was an enjoyable but past chapter on his literary journey.

From Virginia to Chile.  How So?

Walker Elliot Rowe

In a word, employment.  Chile’s economy is roaring along while America’s continues to struggle in recession-like doldrums.  I grew weary of being laid off from one job after another. My former wife was from Ecuador and I speak Spanish so South America was always an attractive place to me.  I no longer contribute to my Rosewood Hill Farm blog.  I now write at Gringolandiasantiago.com on life in Chile.


Chile is known for its wine.  Are you writing on the country’s vineyards?
Actually, I did write a book on Chilean wine back in 2005, Wine, Communism and Volcanoes.  But today, my love affair with wine is limited to drinking it.  I don’t intend to write on the subject again.  My interests are wide-ranging and I felt I had fully explored not only Virginia wine, but the subject in general. I simply didn’t have anymore to say.  Life moves on and so have I.

So what are you doing for a living?
I am a software engineer by vocation and currently working for a computer security firm with clients in the banking industry.  We provide network protection to banking institutions.  Business is good.

I still love writing and contribute material to the blog segment of the Santiago Times. The paper has given me license to write on any subject and I view myself as the paper’s essayist in the mold of Christopher Hitchens.  I’m also researching my next book.

And the subject?
I have a degree in mathematics and have always been fascinated with the logic of mathematical proofs and deductive reasoning. I’m planning on writing a book on math for the lay person but will research it for few more years.  Over the past year, I have been studying calculus with one of my two sons, both of whom still live in the states.  I study everyday and have read ancient Greek mathematical texts and works on math by French, German and Swiss writers.

It all sounds a bit esoteric but the beauty and clarity of mathematics draws me to the subject.  The challenge is to write a treatise that the average person will find engaging while simultaneously enlightening.  It’s far removed from wine writing, although no less interesting to me.

So how does Santiago compare with Rappahannock County?

A History of Virginia Wines

They are both beautiful in different ways.  In Virginia, I commuted to work in Northern Virginia and worked my farm in my spare time.  It was a tough commute and a somewhat lonely life out on the farm.  I simply grew tired of working one job after another with no consistent employment.  Contracts came and went and as soon as a firm no longer needed your services you were sent packing.  I do miss Rappahannock County’s beauty.

Here in Santiago the economy is vibrant.  I am content with my current job and the stability it provides.   But if I wanted to move to another company, the opportunity is there.  Down here even savings accounts are earning four percent interest; that says a lot about the local economy.

Santiago is like living in New York City but with the climate of San Diego.  It’s beautiful.  I can go skiing in the Andes on a Saturday morning and the next afternoon be surfing in the Pacific Ocean.  It’s an ultra modern city with great restaurants and cultural events.  I even play soccer with my business colleagues.  There is so much to do to keep a single guy happy.  That was not the case on my Virginia farm.

Closing thoughts?
I’ve had an interesting life.  I grew up in Georgetown, South Carolina, the son of a tug boat captain and farmer. My interest in farming dates to my youth and I played it out during my Virginia years.  But for me, there is simply too much world to limit yourself with one endeavor.  I am voracious reader and if something piques my interest, it’s everything I can do to control pursuing it.

Virginia was a satisfying time in my life.  Now I’m having a wonderful time in Chile.  My advice to everyone is to chase your dreams so the bucket list is empty when your time comes.

And to all my friends in the Old Dominion, come visit Santiago; either in person or via my blog.  I will provide you with a real or virtual tour of this great city.


Published in the July 21, 2011 edition of the Rappahannock News.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES