I am here. I made it. So what am I doing here? Barely two months ago I was working on a special event at my previous job at my parent’s catering company in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. It was a huge, multi-day event and took months to prepare. At the end of three days one of the participants, the manager of an Oregon winery, asked me what I would be doing the next day. Since I was only scheduled to work through the event, I was, honestly, going to be unemployed and not doing anything the next day. “I guess I’ll hit the streets like everyone else looking for a job.” And then she asked, “Why don’t you sell wine?” She advised me to first get a job in a tasting room so I could become familiar with varietals and the industry in general. Around the same time, I was looking into graduate school. Among other international relations/business programs, I was keen on doing a program in Spain because I wanted to improve my Spanish and the Spanish public universities have a great reputation for a fraction of the cost.
I think Google led me to the University of Salamanca, Master en Enoturismo. You have to love Search Engine Optimization; it knew exactly what I was looking for. I could have ended up studying eco-tourism in the forests of Brazil. As it was, I landed three weeks later on the tarmac at Barajas-Madrid and made my way to Salamanca.
In the next few days, I found an apartment, started my Spanish course at the University of Salamanca, and got oriented to the town. Below is a pic of my first lunch. I love white asparagus. It was mid-October and about 55 degrees in the sun, but very cold in the shade. I was drinking a glass of Toro, not sure the winery though. It would be like saying I was drinking a glass of Napa Valley.
The real fun began on the first day of the master. I took the bus over to the polytechnic campus in Zamora, about 50 minutes by bus. I had some first-day jitters because whole course was in Spanish. Would I understand? I wanted it this way so that I could learn technical, enological, Spanish terminology and be able to work in either language. It turns out that I could understand, and better than I thought. But I really have to strain my brain to understand. I think it will be this way for a long time.
The next day, 11/12/10 we went to a famous winery in Denominación de Origen (D.O.) Toro called Bodegas Fariña (http://www.bodegasfarina.com/). I have uploaded the photos below. Our guide took us on a detailed tour of the grounds and explained the process that just a day before we had learned in class. They were just finishing putting the mosto, or must, into the deposits to begin fermentation. You can see the man mopping up juice in the background.
Until next time, toast to this: anything Fariña.