This past Friday was reunion day, as Universidad Mayor students from past cohorts dating back to 2014, 2015, and 2017 stopped by for a celebration. It was lovely to see the connection between the old and the new and see how our intercambio continues to grow. It was great seeing the new students and the old breaking bread and sharing tales. Most alumni are now working as full time teachers or pursuing graduate studies, so their success is evident in their achievements.
Today was our big wine tour day. While half of our Buf State group went scurrying up the Andes mountains with the indefatigable Dr. del Prado, the rest of the students decided to join me on a leisurely wine tour of the incredible Undurraga Vineyards. It is one of the oldest wineries in the region (established in 1885) and produces a huge amount of Chilean wines which are exported all over the world. It was interesting to see the vineyards and how they grow the different varietals. We also learned that 70% of all Carménère wine is produced in Chile. They have the perfect climate and soil for the vintage, while in other parts of the world they have to produce the grape via grafting due to a blight that wiped out most of the vines in France and other parts of the world. . Our tour leader today was named Brian, he is a native Chilean who was born & grew up in in Omaha, Nebraska (of all places!) but moved back to Chile as an adult to rediscover his heritage--and lead excellent wine tours. I’m always fascinated by stories of those who wander, and are brought back “home”.
Today I also learned that the majority of wine barrels are produced in California and France, and the ones from California sell for about $500-$800 per barrel, and the ones from France cost about $1500 per barrel. After 5 years they become “neutral” in terms of adding any flavor to the wine and are then sold to Pisco or other liquor makers. In the numerous huge stainless steel vats that were at this winery (160,000 liters), they add wood chips to give the wine some flavor as it ages. I’ve been to many wineries over the past couple of decades, and I learned a lot of new facts about wine today—lifelong learning exemplified. If you're a wine drinker for pleasure and interest, please know that the world drinks a LOT of delicious wine from Chile.
I am a citizen of planet earth and am excited to see as much of it as possible in this lifetime.