Monday, March 29, 2010

Argentina Chile study tour day six

Friday March 19 2010

Today we headed about 35 miles south of Santiago to visit Subsole (fruit exporter) and Vina De Martino (winemaker). Subsole takes grapes from local farmers (who are the main shareholders), packages and cools them and then exports them. Subsole also exports citrus, kiwi, cherries, and avocados so that their capacity and employees are fully utilized over the year. After a presentation from Jose Miguel Fernandez the general manager, we all enjoyed a plant tour. I was a bit surprised that this was the first factory tour for many students. At the end we all received a nice size basket of Ralle grapes, a scrumptious new variety.

Next stop was Vina De Marino, where we enjoyed a talk from export manager Guy Hooper (another expat). De Martino is currently the #46 wine producer in Chile and is looking to build market share overseas, especially in the US. De Martino charges slightly higher than average prices, with their key differentiators being 12 years of research to find the best terroir, the launch of carmenere as a distinctive varietal (as opposed to part of a blend), and fully organic production (hello, Whole Foods, have we got a wine for you!). De Martino's facilities also have just been certified 100% carbon neutral. Lots of questions from the students about the marketing challenges; the best advertising is still "get wine into people's mouths."

Hooper then hosted a fantastic lunch. We started with the choice of chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon, while trays of empanadas and razor clams circulated. Then it was time for a three course dinner (1-charcuterie, 2-squid ink risotto topped with fish and crab, 3-pick between fresh fruit, cake or creme brulee) accompanied by more wine (carmenere and/or sauvignon blanc). Then it was time for the winery tour. Each of us was provided with a glass so we could sample at various stages of fermentation, which was a nice twist. Finally, and much to my surprise, we had a chance to sample two more wines (syrah, carmenere) from De Martino's premium brand.

Last night in Santiago and the entire class went to Mestizo where more great seafood and wine were enjoyed. Hard to believe we only have one more day.

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