Day 37, 06FEB2017
Josh and I woke up this morning and I, happily reacquainted with an actual kitchen, cooked us up some cheese toasts with fried salami. We sat on the picnic table under hanging grapes and looked out over the vineyards and backyard pool as the morning progressed into noon.
You can’t beat this lifestyle, Josh and I adored the view every morning, the birds chirping and the dogs chatting with neighboring canine farm clans – this place did wonders for our spirits. We felt completely relaxed. Just after noon Vincent chugged into the house on his tractor from turning the fields. He offered to give us a lift to the locally famous winery, Casa Bianchi, and we happily took him up on his offer.
The winery exports worldwide, and actually produces delightful wine, however it is on an exceptional scale. Think industrial size scale. We walked into the show room and were greeted with our choice of a glass of Malbec or sparkling white wine. The English tour was set for an hour after our arrival, and so Josh and I relaxed in the bright white show room, the walls made completely of windows, and watched as the San Rafael airport hosted incoming and outgoing planes.
Natalie picked us up at 1500 and escorted us on our own private tour of the grounds since we happened to be the only English speakers for the day. It was great, we started with instruction at the vines, then moved past a display of historical wine making equipment. Then we stepped into the massive tank room where fermentation was ongoing. The tanks were gigantic, and remember how I claimed the place was industrial? Where there were 450 tanks in this room alone, and they had more rooms!
While Natalie explained the processes of fermentation, Josh and I were treated to a glass of “young” (so fermented but not aged) Malbec. Finishing this room we were taken to the aging cellars where thousands of oak barrels hosted the prized red wines. Then it was time to see Bianchi’s pride and joy: their sparkling wine.
We walked through a dark corridor, aptly called the cave. The walls of this cave were lined with a Kevlar netting, and behind this netting were thousands of slightly angled bottles of sparkling wine undergoing second fermentation. The cave was chilled, its temperature and light stringently controlled to avoid unexpected explosions from the bottles. As we departed the cave Natalie actually happened upon a bottle that had exploded, its glass shards stuck in the Kevlar netting hole. I couldn’t help thinking this “cave” was very much like the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland where the angry villagers shoot arrows at you.
After the tour we were treated yet again to another glass of wine, and then Josh and I perused the store.
We walked away from the winery with four bottles of wine and a four kilometer walk in the afternoon sun to get home.
Vincent found us walking along the road and luckily picked us up after we’d walked just over 3km. He gave us a ride into town so Josh and I could procure food for lunch, dinner, and snacks. And then around 1900 we invited Vincent and Betiana to share our wine.
Four bottles of wine was just far too much for Josh and I to cart around in our back packs. So instead Betiana designed an exceptional spread of cheeses, salads, meats, olives, and various other snacks to pair with our bottles, and the four of us adults very maturely enjoyed a “wine tasting.”
Instead, what transpired was six hours of becoming the best of friends, a neighbor even stopped by and dropped off three more bottles of wine and a jar of homemade pickles to supplement our evening.
Well into the wee hours of the night Josh and I moved momma cat and her cutest little kittens from the garage into our room, and we fell asleep to the sound of her purring.