The pedals of the bike… rickety.
But my spirits, high.
With three big pushes of the pedals, I shoot off across the street,
and lean back, enjoying the wind in my face.
The vineyards of Maipu ahead.
The couple that I had rented my bike from
had outlined all the wineries in the area…
More than I could get to in one day.
First on my list, a small boutique winery, Vina Maria.
About a mile down the street.
The tasting room has a rustic log-cabin sort of feel.
Rough-finished wood tables,
Walking into the empty tasting room,
I’m greeted by a young lady about my age.
The place is empty otherwise.
The young Mendocino lady, Marta, speaks perfect English.
I get a run down on the wines.
All the time.
She offers up some history…
The owner once owned the winery Trapiche,
but had to sell it in hard times.
We talk for a few moments, enjoying each others’ company,
and then move onto the wine drinking.
Rather than tasting a small bit of the entire line of wines (as is done in most places),
She offers a glass of wine…
and permission to explore the vineyard.
I smile big inside.
I ask if the vineyard manager is around.
“He is usually in the vineyard…
…or the pool.”
as I step out,
I hope to get the chance to chat.
I walk through the garden, as Marta had directed, and come to the vineyard.
The blocks are easily distinguished, as a mound of solid dirt borders each.
About 6-12 inches high these mounded borders are designed so that when the irrigation channels are opened, the area floods.
This is nearly the only source of water that these vines receive. (Avg rainfall: less than 10 inches per year)
Stepping across the irrigation channel, I wander into the vineyard,
and turn into a row.
The ground is soft,
and sinks beneath my feet like wet snow.
I bend down to see the fruit. No leaves pulled.
Noticeably past veraison, though some berries are still green.
I pick out a grape
and follow the procedure for tasting grapes
Pinching the grape between my thumb and forefinger,
catching the juice, pulp, and seeds in the palm of my other hand.
All that is left is the skin.
I smush between my two fingers,
back and forth…
A small drop of juice, gathers at the bottom of the skin.
Just barely pink.
I chew the skin… no fruit flavors present.
I then suck up the juice, pulp, and seeds…
Tasting the juice and pulp, while retaining the integrity of the seeds…
Definitely developing sugar,
but this Malbec needs plenty more time on the vine.
I spit the seeds out for a look.
I toss the seeds into my mouth…
Bitter, herbaceous, tannic.
Two months before harvest…
This is too early to critique a grape for true potential.
I peak up above the fruiting zone to get a look at the canopy…
…about an hour later, I call my self guided tour over…
and continue on… picking up a bottle on my way out.