Ontario Agriculture

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Day 7: Making memories (and wine!) at Montgras Estate

We started the day with the anticipation of our last stop of the day - wine tasting at Montgras Estates! Alas we had a few stops before getting to the winery. 

Our first stop was with a visit with a small vegetable and fruit producer. Luis Carrasco Saldana is a forward-thinking farmer who took the initiative three years ago to further educate himself and a small group of fellow farmers on upgrading their irrigation systems.  With a well only four meters deep he irrigates his cherries, onions, melons and beans for the local market. His advice to us was to do everything with love.  

With irrigation on our minds our next stop was with Graciela who oversees all of the water systems in the area.  In the past six years, due to climate change, Chile has lost 30% of its rain and the river water is down 40%.  The biggest challenge is trying to get the government to acknowledge the need for dams and policy and to act on getting those dams constructed. This would allow water to be distributed more efficiently and recharge aquifers used by wells in the regions.  

Our lunch was enjoyed overlooking a vineyard at Vino Bello on their outdoor terrace complete with horse and wagon. This offered several photo opportunities with the vineyard in the background and a warm breeze blowing around us.  We enjoyed some wine, the vista and great conversation. 

Little did we know that on our final stop of the day we would become Montgras Estates newest winemakers upon our arrival! Gonzalos Silva guided us on our adventure in harvesting and making wine.   He gave us a bucket and some shears and we each got to experience picking our bucket of grapes. Then came the fun part - we took off our shoes and rolled up our pants and savoured the adventure of crushing grapes and watching the juice fill our buckets. To feel the grapes squeeze between our toes and the sweet juice bursting out was a therapeutic experience.  We cleaned up and proceeded with our tour of how they make wine with today's technology. White wine is cool fermented with only the juice and red is warm fermented with the whole grape skin seeds and all.  

Gonzalos instructed us in the proper wine tasting technique to first smell then swirl and smell again and finally taste by swirling in our mouths before swallowing. As Gonzalos says, “a good wine is the one you like the taste of" – so find the one you like and enjoy.   

We returned to Rancagua to enjoy our final night in Chile! Tomorrow we depart for Argentina.

-Class 15


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