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Posts from the ‘Terroir’ Category

Winos crossing borders…

Yesterday was our final day of work at Lapostolle. We had an amazing experience and a fantastic initiation into the wine industry here that we won’t soon forget. After we said our farewells to all of our friends at work and had one last party with the roomies (thanks roomies!) we were off to Argentina early this morning via bus. The purpose of our trip was twofold: one, to visit Mendoza where Malbec reigns supreme and two, to avoid becoming illegal aliens. That’s right, we aren’t working in Chile any longer so our visas will expire today. We only really need to step foot over the border to be allowed back into the country but as long as we’re there, why not have some fun?

So we have a scenic 6 hour bus ride through the Andes to contemplate the rest of our stay in Chile and our next harvest. After an awesome discussion about living life to the fullest with our roommates Roberto, Alejandra and Evelyn last night, a trip to Peru for a hike up Machu Picchu is now definitely on our radar. I mean, we left our other jobs to do this, we had better make the most of it, right?

And our prospects for the harvest in Europe include an amazing winery in Bordeaux and possibly an early harvest in either northern Italy or Slovenia, which happens to be the motherland of my grandfather’s family. As I learned in my previous job, nothing is final until it’s on paper so we don’t consider anything 100% confirmed yet. However, as David Bowie put it (replace the ‘I’s with ‘we’s), “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” Enough said.

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Yesterday I went with my friend and co-worker Patricia to visit another winery named Emiliana just up the road from where we are living. Like Clos Apalta where we work, this vineyard is biodynamic, a widely accepted practice in Chile. Biodynamic viticulture takes organic to another level. From what I have come to understand, it is a principle that not only uses environmentally friendly practices such as composting, avoiding unnatural chemicals and pesticides, etc., but also follows celestial calendars for decisions like when to harvest. This is of course a very basic explanation of a complicated subject. Some wineries in the United States and Europe have been using these practices for years but overall in the wine industry I’ve been told, what might be seen as a “hippie movement” by some winemakers is being met with less resistance in Chile. I don’t know enough about the subject to form an opinion on it yet, but I don’t see any harm in treating the environment well and having less chemicals in my wine.

Winemaker Noelia of Emiliana was nice enough to show us around the property and explain some of their practices. The vineyards are gorgeous right now as it is Autumn and the countryside is a patchwork of yellows, oranges and reds. Noelia explained to us that they don’t spray chemicals to kill bugs because they find that everything has a balance. When you wipe out a population of one “pest” you find that inevitably you will have a sudden increase in the population of another critter that the first pest may have been keeping in check. So they have things like chickens that comb the fields for bugs. The chickens won’t wipe out the whole population but they help decrease numbers and simultaneously fertilize the vineyard. At Emiliana they also plant other vegetation the insects are attracted to near the vines. Noelia explained that if you give the insects somewhere else to go then they may not need to rely on the vines for sustenance. Next we were introduced to the Alpaca. These “woolly eaters” eat weeds and fertilize the vines. It all seems very tranquil and harmonious.

We also were given the opportunity to try a few of the wines. Like Clos Apalta, I thought the wines were very good. I don’t know how much of the taste is influenced by biodynamics but based on the result, I don’t think I would change anything. Our tour definitely inspired me to learn more about the viticultural aspect of the wine. After all, the terroir is where it all begins!

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Surf’s up!

Our home base of Lapostolle in the Colchagua Valley is only a 2 hour comfy bus ride from Pichilemu and the world famous surf of Punta de Lobos. So far, I’ve made two trips to Pichilemu and I hope that Meghan will be able to join me when I return for a 3rd time. I have only been surfing a handfull of times in my life, mostly during college when I lived in LA, so standing up on the board for any period of time is a major accomplishment. Punta de Lobos has a lot of people in the same boat as me, but also a lot of serious pros. In different sections of the beach, you can find waves for people of all ability levels. The water is very cold because the current comes from near Antarctica, but with a rented wetsuit and boots, it’ve very comfortable – even refreshing.

In addition to the waves, Punta de Lobos is just flat out beautiful. On my first trip, I did more surfing and less sight seeing, though we did venture into town after we were all surfed out. On the second trip, I surfed for about 3 hours and spent the rest of the time watching a pro surf competition. I’ll interject here with a little additional info – Punta de Lobos is most famous for it’s annual Big Wave, Tow-in surfing world championships, but the event that I watched was a tricks competition. The waves looked huge to me, but I guess they get much bigger. After watching the pros pulling off ridiculous tricks for a while, we made our way to the actual “Punta” of Punta de Lobos. If I had to guess, I would bet that this is where the biggest waves are found. One of our coworkers from Lapostolle, Ismael, is an experienced surfer who grew up in Pichilemu and knows these waves well. He was the only one from our group to venture out into these waters.

Other than the surfing and sightseeing, I enjoyed my first Chilean-style Churro- filled with dulce leche. The last bus back to Santa Cruz left at 7PM, and at 6:48, we were lucky to find another surfer leaving the beach who was willing to give us a ride back to the bus terminal in town.

On both trips, I left for Pichilemu after working an all night shift, so on both occasions, I took advantage of the 2 hour bus rides to catch some shuteye. Returning from my first return trip from Pichilemu, I slept right through a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

I’m really grateful to have been able to experience Pichilemu first hand, the photos don’t do it justice, and am already looking forward to my next daytrip there!

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