Monday, April 30, 2012

Postcard from Chile: How a Winemaker Tastes Grapes

Viña Ventisquero
The last month has been a whirlwind of good fortune and amazing travel.  I spent a couple of weeks in Argentina and Chile with a group of wine professionals as a guest of Winebow.  Then, two weeks later, I headed back to Chile for a return visit as a guest of Wines of Chile.  Incredible opportunities, to be sure.

Looking back, I shot 5,000+ images and videos.  So much to share.

What's this mean in human terms?  I'll be (slowly but surely) posting videos and slide shows until I get it all out of my system.  Hang on tight.

Before I get started though, here's an interactive map of Chile, including its most important wine regions.  Give it a quick look so you have a lay of the land.

The first video features Felipe Tosso, head winemaker at Chile's Viña Ventisquero. I had the chance to spend the morning with Felipe as he guided our group through Ventisquero's Apala Valley vineyards (a soon-to-be official subregion of the larger muy importante Colchagua Valley).

(SIDEBAR: While you may not immediately recognize Viña Ventisquero, I bet you know their ROOT: 1 line of quaffable, food-friendly, everyday wines.)

Along the way, we made the climb (courtesy of an old Chilean army truck) to La Roblería vineyard, where Felipe and his team are producing some pretty amazing Carménère.

While there, Felipe demonstrated his technique for tasting grapes.  The process seems pretty straightforward enough, right?  Shove a handful of grapes in your mouth and start chewing.

Not so fast, amigos.

As you can imagine, there's a real method to, what honestly turns out to be, his tasting madness.  But, according to Felipe, it's the best (and only) way to ensure the grapes are harvested at their peak.

"Hangin' With Felipe": We make the climb up to La Roblería vineyard (with me hanging—video camera in hand—out the back of the old Chilean army truck) while Felipe shares a bit about his winemaking philosophy.  Stay tuned...

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