MorganDougherty's Travel Journals


  • 30 years old
  • From Colorado, United States
  • Currently in Vina del Mar, Chile

Vida Y Vino...Living and Working in Chile.

My experiences of living, working and playing in Chile while I explore the wine industry further with my internship at Vina Mar winery in Casablanca.

Would We Still Be Friends If We Didnt All Love Food So Much?

Chile Vina del Mar, Chile  |  Apr 08, 2010
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 Where has the time gone?! 

The seasons continue to change here in Vina del Mar and day after day the weather gets cooler, cloudier, and the darkness creeps in a little earlier in the evenings. Just in time for Good Friday, we were all pleasantly surprised to be greeted with amazing Easter weekend weather! Thursday was brilliant and all the people of Vina flocked to the streets and beaches just like summer (but 1/5 of the population). Mara, Nunu, Pete and I decided to join them. We made sandwiches and packed up some other goodies to take to the beach. WE enjoyed basking in the sun, eating, reading and napping. After about 4 hours of exhausting beach activity, we worked up another appetite and returned home to shower up and eat some hearty pasta and meat sauce. After dinner, Mara and the boys went out for a little and I just spent a quiet night with me, myself and BED!

Saturday, Andy and Rachel finally made it in from their Southern travels. We spent the morning catching up on stories, near death experiences and good ol gossip. They went to the Feria one last time and Mara and I headed to the Hiper Lider to pick up the ingredients for our Easter feast. Although Lider is only about 6 blocks away, the walk home with a sack of potatoes, a whole chicken, a pineapple, other heavy veggies, eggs, a glass casserole dish…and many other goodies, was well…quite the challenge. 2 American gringas walking the streets with about 20 triple bagged groceries was quite the sight for sore eyes. We finally made it home with no broken eggs and new arm muscles we never knew we had. Saturday night we made dinner and just stayed in with Andy and Rachel making our lavish Easter decorations for the party the next day.

Sunday was just spent preparing the menu and we (Andy, Rachel, Mara, Dan, Pete and Diego) finally ate around 4:30. The roast chicken, salad, cheesy scalloped potatoes, mushroom dip and guacamole were a success. With full bellies we all sat around until we felt ready to join in on a last drinking game of kings with our original housemates. 

I returned to the grind on Monday. A slow day with no grapes in the press, we received some brand new barrels to start making the Reserva Especial Pinot Noir. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the industry from the ground up. The ins, outs, the “glamorous” and the down and dirty. So if you’ve ever wondered how your exquisite bottle of high class pinot comes to you, let me explain briefly…Instead of starting out in a stainless steel tank, the grapes go straight into the barrel. If it’s from Vina Mar, or another relatively ‘small’ winery without a machine to fill the barrels, it is all done by hand. You would think that they at least had a pre determined way to get those grapes in there…maybe the “barrel funnel” was missing on Monday, but on this day, your Pinot Noir started out with two gringos perched on top of a large barrel with a hand crafted funnel made from a large coke bottle found in the trash, and scoop by scoop, filling up the French oak barrel. Like I said, you learn the quirky details of any job when you get to see everything from the inside, haha. After a slow moving Monday, Pete and I headed to Santiago after work to meet up with Mara, Dan and some friends of Pete. The NCAA championship game was on and we thought it would be a fun adventure to get together and watch the game on a big screen at an American bar. We went to bar California and were greeted by a “hey guys, what’s up”. Hearing English in a Chilean bar really throws you off…this place was decorated with surf boards, pictures of Bob Marley and other American notables. We feasted on wings and burgers and let a few pitchers of beer carry us through the game. We had planned on going out in Santiago, getting a hostel and just taking Tuesday off from work, but after the game we decided to just head back to Vina. When we returned, Georgina, our new English roommate had moved in. She knew that we had plans of staying in Santiago but didn’t expect us to return home around 2 am. Mara and I were beat and ready to throw ourselves in bed, but our dreams of sleep were interrupted when we found the kitchen door from the patio locked….and we don’t have keys for that door. So poor Georgina, who I had yet to even meet face to face, was woken up by us calling her name and knocking on her bedroom window… Not the most comforting first night for her in the house. We finally got in, said we were sorry (after we said ‘nice to meet you’) and called it a night.

Tuesday was gloomy and overcast. Since we had already taken the day off in expectation of staying in Santiago, Mara and I went exploring to find a new café. We found a quaint little green and orange building. Inside was just funky with mismatching retro/hippie décor, pillow cushions and dark wood tables and floors. A cute spot with a great vibe; we cuddled up on a corner couch with some coffee, a pastry and spent the afternoon diving into our books. A relaxing day that fit perfectly with the gloomy fall weather. Of course, when one roomie comes another goes. Dan is headed out this Friday to start his 7 months of travel so we had a welcome/goodbye dinner for Gina (Georgina our new roommate) and Dan at Sushi Home (our guilty pleasure that we visit a little too often with the most ammmaaazzzing sushi and fresh fish).

Wednesday I was back to work and it was again, a slow day and Pete and I were greeted with a new job we hadn’t had the pleasure of doing before: hand sorting grapes and stems! Keep your day job and stay in school kids, this was an experience. I have a definite respect for any factory worker doing comparable labor. 6 hours standing at a table, picking out the raisins, stems, and leaves from batches of grapes that have just gone through the destemmer and then onto a vibrating table before being pumped into the stainless steel tanks. That is what Pete and I did literally all day! A needed and interesting experience; I wasn’t complaining too much- with my occasional OCD and attention to detail, I kind of liked it. I felt like I was on a game show or in the ‘I love Lucy’ episode at the chocolate factory. When 5:30 rolled around we were excited to get home, shower up and do something other than touch grapes.

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