May 2, 2009

Finca Altamira

A year or two ago a series of rather fortunate events between my brother and one of the owners of Finca Altamira led to and invitation to stay and lend a hand during the harvest of 2009. (It´s a long story and I am a little short on details to get into it, but it involves being rescued from a tinfoil sleeping bag, missed airplanes, and a roadtrip accrossed the US in a VW bus with a dreadlocked computer programer from Chicago).

Anyway, Altamira is an impressive (to say the least) little vineyard outside of La Consulta, just south of Mendoza, and the owners were congenial enough to let a couple of roughnecks from SD stay for a stint. David (a famous English ex-journalist claiming to be allAmerican at heart (which I can believe,but his sense of humor remains clearly English : )) and his son Nelson (a 3rd grader with the intellect of a young Einstien and energy of a howler monkey) were great hosts for the two of us during the short time we spent together at their finca. Activities whilst staying there invloved golfing (in the backyard) and searching for wormholes that would transport us to Patagonia for that BIG fish (Nelson has quite the imagination as well.) In between eating delicious food and drinky tasty wines, conversations varied from the fictitous (for B and me) world economy crisis, to the very real "who done it" in the famed boardgame Clue (it was Plum in the Ballroom, with the knife.)

We were slightly bummed after finding the first scheduled day of harvest was cancelled due to a drunk truck driver and hung over workers- a festival of some sort took place the day before (who can blame em´?.) So, I resorted to swimming, swatting birdies with Nelson (badmitten), drinking more delicious wine, and playing a round or two of golf (again--in the back yard!) Like I said... bummer, huh.

The next day, as it turned out, our two pairs of hands were´nt exactly needed once again as more than 60 workers showed up to snip & pick the purple fruits dangling from the vines surrounding the palace. Still, a fun experience watching the men and women hustle to fill as many bins as possible in the short time it took to gather the entire crop of Malbec & Cabernet grapes growing from the fertile soils of the Altamira Finca. Unfortunetly, we would not hang around to see the rest of the crop gathered later that week, it was time for us to move on, and, in hindsight, we never got to be that much of a help around the place afterall. On the other hand, hopefully our South Dakotan charm left enough of a good impression to not lock the doors to any bike bearing rednecks in the upcoming future....especially if they conspire to let the father/son team relive their triumph over the midwestern bros on the linx.....Hasta Entonces..

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