By Barry Chaiken
As expected I did not post as I had hoped. A bit too much real work got in my way as I tried to complete projects back in the U.S. So, instead of trying new wineries and taking al fresco lunches at places like La Bourgogne, I sat in the lobby of the Villaggio working. No crying please! The evenings were a great time where I met many, many interesting people.
I'll save some business comments for another post (very soon), so let me share some thoughts on the vineyards.
With over 600,000 plants in the ground, covering more than 200 acres, our project is past the start-up phase and into its "teen" years. The roads are laid out on the original acres, the land is cleared for the winery, and those of us who have 2007 and 2008 vineyards have signs designating our overall vineyard and varietals mapped out on the trellis supports. If you wade into the fields, your only view are of grape vines and the Andes. Not too difficult to experience. I'll post some pictures for you to see (nothing as artistic as Michael's but I'm only documenting here).
An Asado was held this past Friday where I and a few other guests got to stay in the newly built cabins near the service area at the most eastern part of the property. This is also where the lagoon is that stores the irrigation water that is pumped up from the acquifer below. There is even a dock into the lagoon but I'm not sure why as the water is only a few feet deep. Unless you are about six years old and have an inflatable canoe, there is not much you could do with that dock. Well, OK, it is nice to sit out above the water and look at the snow capped Andes.
If you are into wine, this was a special Asado. Both Santiago Achaval and Enrique Foster were there with Santiago bringing a double magnum of one of his top wines. We were all blessed that night.
The cabins are hardly cabins. I've stayed in worse Hyatts and Sheratons!! They have sliding doors that look out on the Andes, a huge, huge fireplace and an area for eating. Attached to the two connected cabins is a service room where food is prepared and the staff sleeps. Bunk beds for all in that area! No snoring allowed.
Michael did his usual magic with the Asado, complaining later that the cuts of meat where not up to his standards. With al the great people and wine there, I think no one noticed.
Shame on me. I missed the sunrise thinking, better to sleep in than see the sun rise over the vineyards. Not too smart a move. Although the sun rises in the East over the vineyards east of us, the orange glow falls on the snow on the Andes to the West. So, I missed the light show. And the morning was crystal clear. If you do get out to the cabins, don't miss the sunrise. You can always go back to bed.
I did get to taste some of my grapes. I picked some cabernet sauvignon off the vines and the sweetness and flavor were evident already on these two year old vines. And I thought this varietal would be my "worst" crop. After achieving a 91+% vine success rate in 2007, the replanted vines looked good too. So I am over 99% planted now, a very good start. My plans for 2010 have already started.