A bunch of folks at the winery, including me and Meghan, had the day off on Tuesday. It’s a holiday in Chile. The upside is that you get a day off work, the downside is that 99% of the population has the same day off work so all stores, shops, restaurants, etc. are closed. Fortunately the buses were still running and with the help of our friend Patricia, we decided to make an adventure out of it.
The first plan was to visit the thermal pools at 7 Tazas Park near Talca. Unfortunately, after Patricia did some research, we found out that this would be an impossible single day feat. So instead we set our sights on the hot springs outside of Rancagua. An early morning huge bus, short taxi transfer, and smaller bus ride later we learned that these hot springs were (like everything else) closed for the day. The good news is that we ended up in a beautiful park outside the city in the foothills of the Andes where a lot of people were gathering for the holiday. After asking around, we decided to take a hike to top of the park’s highest hill. After a short, steep 15 minutes we had to stop and ask for directions. If there’s ever a case for stopping and asking for directions – this is it. The brief conversation lead to us renting horses to haul our sleep depraved butts up to the top of the “mountain.” The horses weren’t really necessary, but they made for a really good time. I don’t know if the photos do it justice, but I hope my horse got paid extra, he was dripping sweat by the end of our time together.
We spent the rest of the day in the park relaxing, meeting people and watching a rodeo. In the end it was a day off work well spent and a memory that I’ll never forget.
We have transitioned into the second phase of the harvest. Up until now, we’ve spent a lot of time on the fermentation process, starting with the hand desteming of the grapes by the ladies (pictured), moving onto the cuvas (or large oak tanks) and assisting the grapes/juice/wine/grapes through fermentation. Now that the last of our grapes have arrived from the vineyard, we will be focusing more on pressing grapes and moving the wine into smaller barrels to begin the aging process.
It’s great to be experiencing this whole process first hand. Each week as we move through the harvest, we’re learning and practicing new skills. Though we still have a lot to learn, I think that we’re doing well. Everyone is in need of a vacation and there’s a rumor floating around that we might have an extra day off work on Monday or Tuesday in honor of Chile’s national “workers day.” I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but that sure would be nice. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, we should find out later tonight.
Today world famous wine consultant Michel Rolland and Lapostolle winery owner Madame Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle (of the Grand Marnier empire) will taste the 2012 Clos Apalta that we’ve been pouring our blood, sweat and tears into during this harvest. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Rolland, he is the equivalent of a modern day Bacchus, a sort of wine God if you will. Whether or not you like his influence, the power he holds in the wine industry is undeniable.
He consults at over 100 wineries, in over 16 countries around the world. He is a winery owner, consultant, oenologist and wine maker and a very successful one at that. Many wineries, like the one we are working at, trust their wine to his palate in deciding how to blend or proceed with their wine making process to ensure the highest quality and best tasting wine possible. At our winery, Clos Apalta, he works with the very talented Technical and Winemaking Director Jacques Begarie and Senior Winemaker Paola Muñoz.
We recently switched to our round of the night shifts so unfortunately I don’t think we will have the chance to meet either Madame or Michel, but I am excited about the fact that they will both be drinking the samples of Clos Apalta that we prepared for them in the wee hours of the morning (pictured) and have been spending our last month and a half working on. That maybe the closest we come to meeting them. Hopefully they agree that this is the best vintage yet!
These pictures were taken from and around the beautiful Clos Apalta winery where we worked.
This is what adventure looks like, our adventure anyway. Here is the formula; you throw a few belongings in some body bags, put the rest in a 10′ x 20′ box with a lock on it, leave your awesome job, kiss your friends and family goodbye and throw caution to the wind with the person you love.
We are off to Chile to pursue a life in the wine industry because as our (former) landlord put it on our last day at our old place, “you’re young and you can.” Our first go at a wine career will be at a French owned winery called Lapostolle. We’ll see where that leads us. Here’s to adventure!