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A bittersweet final week working out here in Chile on the 2023 vintage! I feel an immense sense of gratitude for this opportunity to create alongside the skilled and welcoming friends I have made. I came here with a hope to share my knowledge, gain perspective and I have done just that! The skills and techniques I’ve acquired during my time here will help me in my continued pursuit of creating the best wine in Temecula Valley. After this Friday, I get to spend one more week taking it all in before I head north to California where my heart lies!  

Friday I was invited to dinner at a friend of Pilar’s who lives right down the street (everyone lives close in a small town). Once we arrived, the gate swung open and Gloria, Pilar’s friend, gave us a warm welcome to her home in Chimbarongo. As we walked in, the delicious aromas of her home-cooked meal warming in the oven made us soo hungry. Luckily, as great as Pilar already is, she also owns a business creating local charcuterie boards and she brought one for us to snack on while we waited. As we talked, we also enjoyed a Chardonnay from a nearby coastal region close to Pichilemu, with mineral driven soils you could actually taste! After a few glasses, dinner was ready. We ate salad, wedge potatoes and baked wild caught trout. The rest of the night was filled with good times and rock n’ roll! Haha

A slow Saturday morning was needed after a fun night, so I Face Timed loved ones back home; A common occurrence when you are 5,573 miles away. I miss them so much; SO grateful for technology! Later that night, I attended a birthday party for Gabriel’s Brother. I knew Chileans could party, but wow they really know how to have a fun time! About 100+ people flooded the yard. The party was filled with wine, beer, a DJ, food truck, bonfire, and tons of friends that just kept showing up! I found myself surrounded by so many like-minded individuals from the wine industry here in Chile. Everywhere I turned, I was greeted by a new face eager to ask questions about my visit here. One conversation led to Gabriel’s nephew, Alfonso, inviting me to his family’s newest Carmenere vineyard installation. He asked if I could give my thoughts on the soil composition and overall opinions. After talking into the evening, I decided to call it a night because I had a winery reservation in the morning. Good thing I did because I found out the party went until 4am!  

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I woke up Sunday happy I came home at a decent hour to get some rest for the day. Pilar and I made our drive to Viña Santa Cruz winery where they have a wine and automotive museum; Two of my favorite things! As I walked through the museum, I began to fully appreciate the ingenuity required to make wine in the past… Yes, wine is worth it! Haha Even if we didn’t have the state-of-the-art equipment that we do at Wiens, I would be out there smashing grapes like Lucille Ball. Once we finished with the tour and wine tasting, we made our way to another one of Pilar’s friends’ houses. It was a beautiful home in the foothills of a small town called Lolol that reminded me of my grandparents’ house in De Portola Estates near Temecula Wine Country. She grew up in Boston and spoke perfect English, so we were able to have an engaging conversation about her life and how she ended up here. Over local wine and snacks, we talked about how she purchased her home 10 years prior to use it as a B&B to meet new people. It was a perfect day!

Monday, I worked a half day, then met up with Alfonso and we headed to the Carmenere vineyard in Placilla. As we drove into the countryside, I appreciated the mosaic of landscape and microclimates found in the traversing valleys running towards the Pacific. They not only hold beauty, but also lend opportunity to discover a hidden potential beneath. After assessing the property, we had worked up an appetite, so we drove to his family’s estate nearby in Nancagua. We walked in to the smell of— you guessed it— empanadas! But these were not any old empanadas, these were handmade and baked to crispy golden perfection in a classic Chilean adobe oven! After lunch we rested until Alfonso showed me around their property with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon planted.  

Tuesday was a pretty typical workday at the winery, but Wednesday, I woke up at 5:00 am to carpool back over to the 100-year-old Pais vineyard near Pichilemu. This marked the last day of harvest in a kismet, full-circle moment as my time comes to a close. The road was long and winding into the hills and forest that surround it. Once we arrived, the sun was just peaking over the mountaintop shining light on a vineyard that has seen more than 35,000 sunrises! I am very happy with the fruit we harvested and believe it will produce the 90 + point wines it has garnished in the past. After a long day in the vineyard, we drove the truck to the small beach village of Bacalemu to enjoy the best fresh caught Reineta fish and chips I’ve ever had; A perfect way to spend my last work week here in Chile. Now, it’s time to relax and spend the rest of my time with all of the friends I’ve made the past 6 weeks. Seven days to fill with adventure, great wine and nurturing relationships I know will last a lifetime. I’ll talk to you all one last time as I fly home, but it’s crazy to think: Just one week from today, I’ll be Going To California!

– Blake