A Travellerspoint blog

In For Work, Out for Play

The first two weeks in Magallon; The Whites, The Parentals and the People

sunny 24 °C

Then on saturaday, I went to zaragoza and checked into the only hostal in zaragoza. I figure I would get to know them because my town is small and zaragoza is my escape from the country side and the small town life. Once in a while I love being lost and going unnoticed in a big city. Fine. That’s a lie, a like doing that quite a bit.

That night my highschool friends gathered wherever they were in the world and thanks to such advances such as the internet and skype were able to select their fantasy football teams in multiple continents. I know it’s nerdy and dorky, but it is a tradition and Fantasy Football unites are friends as few things can these days. We might be 10,000 miles away from each other, but at least I can still talk smack to every one each week as my receiving core puts a smackdown on them. My team is good and I was very happy with the draft. More so I was just happy to talk with everybody, I miss ‘em.

I went back to Zaragoza that night and got comfortable for the next days work. I got up early and walked down the street, with everyone noting my new, distinct un-Magalloness. Perhaps it was that I don’t smell bad. No, it might have been the fact that I like vegetables that sets me apart. Whatever it was they all say “holadios” as I pass. At first I was like, ‘wow, these people are cool, they think Im god. But no, they just don’t pronounce the second ‘a’ sound. That would be redundant.

Work was great the first couple of days. All I did was shadow a cellar worker, named Jose Miguel, or Fuentes. He is el major and our goal became getting me to become el major de California so he could come work for me. In the morning we did a tour of the winery and in the afternoon we cleaned tanks. At lunch I went with Paz to Fuendejalon, the other coop just 8km away to have lunch. I almost forgot, Paz is my Chilean roommate. She is nice, always laughing and helps me with words I don’t know in Spanish. My vocab is getting re-worked and expanded. Everything is called something else and I often don’t know the key word to understand how the feel about something. It sucks but it will better as time goes on.

The first week is great as work is light, the jobs can be done in time and aren’t rushed. But Fuentes always is telling me how it is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets a whole lot better. Boy was he right.

That Saturday I began doing duties independently, as I was now comfortable with all the equipment in the winery. I spent a lot of time cleaning, getting everything ready for the whites that would be coming in starting on Monday. We were to hit the ground running on Monday as Chardonnay would be the start of a long, 5-8 week harvest.

After work, I took the 40 minute bus ride and met my parents in Zaragoza. I was sooooo happy to see them and man was my mom happy as well. It had been three months without seeing them and it was great to be reunited. My dad had vacation during these next two weeks and they’ve always wanted to go to Barcelona and northern Spain. Me working here was just the excuse they needed for a holiday in Spain. We went out for a nice dinner, hit the sack and woke up early to hit the town. Unfortunately if you’ve ever been to Europe and especially Spain, eeeeveeeryyything is closed on Sundays. Everything. But that didn’t stop my mom as we filled the day with a tour of the city through the lens of Goya, the city’s most famous artist. We had lunch and then went to the Alhaferia, a Moor castle that the Christians then put a church right over it. Pretty sweet stuff. We walked around and enjoyed the great company. Next weekend I would take AVE, the high speed train and go to meet in Barcelona. I must admit I was a little excited for the end of the next week.

Before I got to work at ten(I have the later shift), the grapes were already being poured into the hoper. It was Chard and it I have to admit, the first Chard was a little green and phenolic, but in a large winery, that is exactly the challenge. Sometimes you just don’t get good grapes and you have to manage making quality wine. Easier said then done. So the Chards go direct to press and we are trying a relatively new technique called flotation, a method that uses nitrogen to bond to insoluble solids and floats them on the surface. You can then get clear juice by transferring the juice from the bottom and stopping once you have hit the foam. You know Guinness, it has really stable foam because of its high protein content and use of N2 instead of CO2. Its the same idea here. To increase the stability and clarity of the juice, we use fining agents, gelatin(yeah, that’s not a typo, gelatin) and bentonite(a clay) to bind to proteins and polysaccharides that could form instabilities later on. So floatation is letting a pint of Guinness sit there for two hours and then sucking the beer out of the bottom and leaving the foam on top. And yes, we ferment the foam as well. Dee-sgusting, but don’t worry it gets distilled.

The floatation machine isn’t exactly straight forward and it takes me about two days to really understand what is going on and be able to operate it on my own. It is not so straight forward and there are a lot of parts to the system. Making things harder is that everything the first couple of days goes wrong with it, so we are constantly troubleshooting and figuring out what piece needs to be addressed. Making things even worse is the high amounts of grape skins and seeds that clog up the rough filter and cause us to loose pressure every five to 15 mintutes. Ughhhhhhhh!!

My lunch break has been shortened from 2 hours to one hour, so going anywhere is simply out of the question. After work Paz, the girls and I usually go out if we aren’t too tired. On Wednesday we went to Tarazona, a nearby town and celebrated as the town was having their annual festivities.

Working with Fuentes is awesome, we have a lot of fun together and joke about how nothing works in the winery, how there’s a lot of money in Spain and just about every other topic we can have fun with. We have had some heated discussions about interesting topics, some tasteful and other not so tasteful. The Chileans have this thing where they think the Spaniards are Africans because they share a common tectonic plate. I am like excuse me, we don’t classify continents by tectonic plates anymore guys. Anyways, I think you know where I am going with this. But the relationship with Fuentes is awesome and having eachother’s back during harvest is important. Those guys can pick you up or break you on a long, stressful day. I think people need more pickin up then pushing down.

Right now most of the work is separating out free run and press fractions, transferring them from the press pan through a cooling, tube in tube ‘interchamber’ and into a cooling holding tank. From there we use flotation and separate them into lots. There are four plastic tanks that we use to settle the juice as it does its things and floats. From there we transfer them into larger tanks to ferment.
In the begining of the day I spend a lot of time floating and transferring wines and on the days that there are select, specially classified grapes, we inoculate them with yeast. Yet inoculating a 50,000L tank isn’t exactly throwing some yeasties in the and letting them rip.
So, here’s what I do. A. get hot water only that there is no hot water in the main winery. Yes, mucho dinero en espana. So I have to go to the bottling line a block away with buckets on a carrito (while my Spanish vocab is increasing my English vocab is shrink oh it’s a dolly. I hang 40 liters of water in two buckets on the handles and go back to the main winery. B. Commercial yeast usually come in dehydrated form so that they can be used when ever. So to rehydrate them I sprinkle em over the hot water. By the way this is in a 1000 liter, square plastic bin. You can see them rehydrate as they swell and become metabolically active. Then you add juice, but you have to be careful cause a large temperature swing will ‘shock’ the yeast and kill them. So you have to add the juice a little at a time. I then pretty much do fermentation management until its ready to go in. I add it once it is a certain specific gravity.

Let me explain, sugar is much denser then alcohol and you can estimate the stage of the fermentation and the amount of sugar in the solution by measuring how dense it is. Water has a SG of 1000. So the more dense it is the more sugar there is and the less alcohol. Once it goes below a thousand, you know that it has little to no sugar left and its resting and its terminal minima(hopefully) is dependent on how much sugar there was to be begin with and how efficient the yeast were at converting it into alcohol. The max chemical efficiency is .6(1 mol of sugar goes to .6 mol of ethanol) but in practice it is around . 575. That’s pretty good. They must really want NAD+, and that makes us all really happy.

The only thing that can screw up this measurement is glycerol. It can be made be made by our yeast buddies or our mutual enemy, Botrytis cinera, a mold that infects the grape and by far the cause of most rot. Glycerol makes it more viscous, which is great in the finished wines but throws off SG readings. That and a simple temperature correction is needed if it strays from 20 degrees C.

So yeah that is what I do. Just got into Barce, met up with my parents and Im gonna go to bed. We leave for Girona manana and then go to Figeras, the home of Dali on Sunady.
Ciao ciao.

Posted by dvpescet 13:26 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

My Journey to the Holyland

Form Dubrovnik, to winecountry, to wine town.

sunny 30 °C

In Dubrovnik, I half consciously stumbled to the airport where I meet these two Croatian girls trying to go out in Barcelona that night, supposedly with a connection at a Barcenoleta night club. So I am like sweet lets go, so we get some duty free and a gift for the winemaker and set off once again to the EU. I pass out and once we get there, conveniently at 330, the two girls’ two friends are there to pick them up. This is after they go crazy in Croatian to each other and find the first bathroom to put on makeup before they even get out customs. So I’m no like maybe this isn’t cool, but at least I can hopefully get a ride to the center out of this. That was until I saw they were driving a TT and Im like damn well done. There will be no fifth wheel. I kept the liter of Asolute I paid 2 euro for and say peace out.

I take the bus to the center and I realize that the directions I half consciously printed out only printed a third of the directions. So I have like 1/3 of 6 different ways to get to the hostal. I am like you gotta be kidding me. Its 430, I haven’t slept in two days and now I have 1/3 of 6 ways to get th=o the hostal!!! So my brilliant ass finds a map of the metro and because the hostal is called One Sants, I have some reason to pray that it is related to the main train station, called saints. Unfortunately it’s like four and I have to go on the night bus with possibly the loudest conversation I have ever heard in my entire life. These two girls where speaking in some African derived language yelling into the air and just littering it with open vowels and hard consonants. Painful. I wanted to call waste management. Me and the other guy on the bus where like this cant be happening. It got so bad that the guy asked the bus driver if he could call the police on them.

Got to sants train station til the info both opened up and I found out where my hostal was. But my stay at the hostel was short lived because my boss wanted me to go to magallon that day. So off I was again to magallon on AVE, reaching 300km/hr. It took 1.5 hours to get to zaragoza. From zaragoza I took a bus took a 40 minute bus to Magallon, where Cesar, Alejandro and Jose Miguel were waiting for me. I was relieved to find some sort of civilization in Magallon. There even was a landmark; a huge church on top of the only hill within the surrounding 19k. There were even people walking in the street and bars lining a main ‘drag.’ The two girls, Paz and Ana were waiting for the bus to Bilbao and invited me, saying I would “pasarlo bien.” After 2 sleepless nights I think I didn’t want to go to Bilbao.

My three new friends and a zombie went up a steep street, straight to the top of the city and it turned out I lived a stone’s throw away from the church. At least I would never get lost going home. An encouraging sight was the town’s lone mural, which was on the steepest street heading up to the church and my place. It said something along the lines of ‘the only thing you need in order to climb up this street is a love of the saint of magallon, strong lungs and the wine of magallon.’ This was an encouraging first impression of the town. It was also its downfall as I would soon learn because, while there is wine in magallon, there simply isn’t much else.

Anyway off I was to celebrate con los Chillenos, o los ‘chabos’ as I would later call them. We started off by helping a man replace a refrigerator in his bar and got repaid by well, beer. The two guys were very kind, one of them was the handy man at the winery and the other one worked the fields. We went up to the Chileans’ apt to an awaiting dinner of ribs covered in fat. We were mollified by the hearty meat and got to enjoying some wine from Minerva, Magallon and lots of beer. We pasared lo bien; we sang, danced, drank and exchanged stories.

I had arrived in Magallon and was excited to start. All was looking up and I was excited at the upcoming opportunities that would be soon coming my way.

Posted by dvpescet 13:21 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Morstien to Mosel

The Mosel, the end and the begining!!!

all seasons in one day 25 °C
View DEVO Wine Journey on dvpescet's travel map.

Wow, so this was a really long time ago….I am going to summarize the next couple of days. next day was rough in the morning. We were all a bit tired and it was hot, really Fing hot. We met up with Christian, our guide for the next couple of days. Our day was packed as we went to three wineries.The one of note was Gutzler, as he showed us amazing Pinot. He noted that Pinots were his favorite and my God, were they amazing. Truly the greatest reds we had in the entire trip I believe. The Morstien was to die for and the reds of his reds were amazing. I got a lower end Pinot but if had been in the states, I would have bought a significant amount of the Morstien. SO Good, it had so much varietal character and the tannin was just succulent. We went to an awesome dinner at a restaurant/winery. We had an amazing dinner, and were super happy afterward. Christian was our guide the next couple of days.

I am sorry about my writing, I am simply having the worst meal of my life. I have never been treated so poorly and never get this Samsung netbook N250, I absolutely hate the mouse. It it so sensitive3 and every two seconds it does some phantom clicking and the curser is at a different part of my word document and I need to adjust where that shit is. But more poorly I leave Croatia with perhaps a very sour taste on my mouth. Every American traveler whom has entered the door has received scrutiny and pretty much forced to leave. They first told me that I could just have drinks, so I wanted to get fries, and then he was like no you have to order like a meal, so he went back and asked if I could be served a freaking burger. Meanwhile, locals receive none of the scrutiny, harassment or prejudice I have experienced. This town has just gotten sick of tourists and as a result looses some of its hospitality.

With that I segue into the fact that the Germans won third place that night over the Uruguans. I think the Uruguans played the most fundamental and solid soccer; they were so disciplined. They were all such smart soccer players. It was a pleasure to watch them play. Watch out for the Germans in 2014. They are about to Fuck. Shit. Up.

So there was another party at the Bed and Bath, it was schweet once again but not quite as corny. This is the worst restaurant ever. Oh my god. There was just a fire in the kitchen and now everyone is yelling at eachother, at least Shakira is being shown on the flat screen. Who doesn’t love Waca waca? I have now heard that song a couple times too many. Also I lo au dans. I think that’s what it is called. I hate this mouse, no matter how many times I change the mouse settings it still does the same shit.

Next day we went to the Mosel and met up with Mattias on the beginning of a very hot summer day. He is awesome and is a young wine maker in the Mosel. Being on the Rhine adds like 30% humidity. In all honesty, I can’t recall my tasting notes too much. But next the first place we went to did not impress me, but the wines were solid and we went to the top of the Mosel overlooking some of the more important vineyards and discussed the valley and the current state of winemaking and vineyard growing. It is difficult for the steep sloped people in the Mosel to be competitive because the classification system isn’t sufficient and doesn’t allow for the wine to be marketed to account for the higher costs of farming. The only thing preventing the change in labels are the powerful cooperatives producing by and far the largest amount of wine. After that we went to the Doctor; and it was amazing.

The door to the cave is on the side of this ridiculously steep slope, lined with slabs of slate waiting to come crashing down. The cellar opens and the cave is just old. If the lord of the rings had a wine cellar this would be it; water leaking from the ceiling, cobwebs painted across every angle and the walls were nothing but mold. They were literally alive. At the end of the entrance was this body of still water which was a cross of a well and the playboy mansion hot tub, as it bended around into nothing. Our flight of wines was amazing and the awesome winemaker, whose name is escaping me right now had a really well thought out tasting for us. It was here when I realized that a few, express and focused tasting were waaaaay better then just a plethora of wines from a year of several years and classifications. To remember the wines I would have to go back to my tasting notes, but I do remember that I really liked them. They were all very interesting, exotic and had really expressive noses coupled with mostly lean, austere bodies.

After that, the group went off to get frappucinos to discover that they were more like coffee flavored milk then anything else. Ouch. We were off to get comfy at the b and b we were staying in, a really couzy house with a winery below it. The owner, Kahtja Fehere was awesome and was connected and in tune with the wine scene in the Mosel. That night was quiet as we just hung out and drank a lot of wine around a table on the beautiful patio below the south facing vineyards of the Mosel. The next day was just JJ Pruhm and also the largest coop in the Mosel. We somehow managed to squeeze in a boatride on the Mosel! So awesome. The next day people started leaving, it was sad.

I apologize, I have simply waited waaay too long to write this….The trip was great, one of a kind and I will always remember the wines, the people and the relationships that evolved during that trip. It was such a good time. And unlike most things, it ended with a bang! Our last night was with Christian and Fabian Schaffer as we celebrated their graduation from the Univerity of the Gessienhiem, I was off to Frankfurt, Munich and then town to Croatia for my 6 weeks of freedom before going to the Balkans and having the time of my life. But that is neither here nor there. Let’s fast forward to crush, after the exploration of Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia and Hercegovnia. August 28th, leaving from Dubrovnik Croatia to BCN, Spain………

Posted by dvpescet 13:11 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Schwitzing in Ze Deutchland

Deep fry in Silence or Roast in Honk honk!

34 °C

So after Champagne and Alsace, we were off to Germany. Just in time. Mom and Dad had begun to fight and the kids in back needed some way to forget that mom and dad were fighting.
Mom and Dad, better known as Sophie and Ben “the Leachdawg” Leachman were the only two people who could drive le bue vau(over 25) and such became the driver and their copilot/navigator. They started getting frustrated with one another so we decided to have a good time and take advantage of the open beverage laws while driving to loosen up the atmoshpere, and it worked! No sooner did an encouraging sign appear:

WELCOME TO ZE DEUTSCHLAND!

Arriving at our hostel in Stuttgart it was time to eat and time to watch the Germany-Spain semifinal in the common room of our hostel. Spain won, much to our disappointment only because we were IN Germany and seeing them in the finals would have been nuts. Dopple bad because there were hella Spain fans in Stuttgart apparently because the horns were sounding aaaaallllllllllll fucking night and with our hostel about 15m from a major artery of the city, it was an interesting night. We had two options; deepfry in silence or roast in honk honk. We chose roast in honk honk.

The next day was our travel day and we were excited because we were going to check out Christian, a fellow student’s winery in Rhiengau. I was elated because I had been carrying 3 of his wines for ten days and I had enough of a heavy, full pack. So I gave it to him and he responded like I just went to the corner store and picked up some twinkies for him. Fuck that. He was a better at giving tours then receiving bottles of wines and it was our first tour where we could lay back, say whatever we wanted and make fun of the ‘vinemakers’ giving us a tour of their ‘vinery’ and ‘vineyards’. Silly Germans. Steffan, the other Gheissenhiem exchange student met us there and we were off to meet up with Fabian (who worked at Opus 1) at ALdinger to have some New Zealand Sb, I mean Rhiengau Sb. Aldinger, with possibly the most German german had great wines and showed us the first really strong red wines that we have seen. There was a solid Pinot and a fairly big Lunberger, which surpirsed me cause this was the first wines where alcohol needed to be restrained and it was surprising. But overall, excellent quality at Aldinger.

Though the highlight of our day was not wine, but an amazing dinner in Fabbian’s vineyard with all ze Germans. When I say in the vineyard I mean IN the vineyard. Like I could reach over and bite unripened Rielsing. Oh yeah, Fabian’s grandma made the food and it was dank. Actually more scruptulescent.
At night we met ze Germans and went out in Stuttgart to have ze party time. After walking 15kms, we arrived at a club and went to town, particularly cause it was old school American hip hop.

Next day I discovered why our hostel smelled like wort. On my run I passed a huge brew house that reeked of wort and extracted sugar. MMmmmmm

We visited Marlena’s (a former exchange student) at the winery where she worked, called Reinstat von Buhl. Great wines and then we went to a old castle, climbed to the top of the tower, and then repped it at a wine festival. We paced out to our next bed at bath in worms and it was the shit. A German wedding was going on and this solo act German guy was doing the cheesiest American pop songs. We just listened, drank, laughed and had a great time downstairs, outside on a picturesque patio. Things were going great……

Posted by dvpescet 22:18 Archived in Germany Tagged automotive Comments (0)

Alsacian sensation

Say Riesling!!!...................lots of Riesling

sunny 30 °C

Strasbourg just feels like Davis, only a really Euro one; guys sport mullets, ridiculous ’metro’ fits, there is a system that could be called public transportation, and well, everything is just pricier. Oh yeah, the women are way flyer. But, the city boasts are large student population, city folk travel largely by bike, it finds itself along a major wein of transportation and its people are well, super laid back and chill. We left Champagne Saturday after an awesome wine tour of Georges Sohet et fils, a really small, family operated vigneron independent (aka they own the land and do all the vinification themselves) and it was awesome to see such a family operation. It is a model that is becoming less common but I think preserving such a model is one of the crucial pieces against the homogenization of wine.
At Strasburg we celebrated to 4th of July on a mother flippin boat. We all went out to this night club that had converted this ship into a nightclub. It was sick but the DJ was literally the emporer of tool bags. King Toolus was him name and he not only was a huge tool but the music sucked and he was really rude to Hillary. Who the fuck wouldn’t play lady Gaga?!!??!?!
Then we were off to a couple of nice wineries in Alsace. The ones of note were Merciel Deis and Domaine Weinbach. The Mericel Deiss guys had a really interesting way of marketing their wines, apparently returnoing to the French way of classifying their wines. They also made an impression by making a Pinot that had amazing notes of leather, salami and pepper and well had very little varietal character. It blew my mind that that could be Pinot.
The wines at Merciel Deiss were good, but she was so scripted that it just made the wines less genuine and raw as they should have been. The people of Alsace were great as we got significantly drunk, as it was common for our hosts to open up 10-15 bottles in a pouring.
It was awesome. We had a great time in Alsace.

Posted by dvpescet 12:28 Archived in France Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

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