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Monday, August 5, 2013

Tarija Bolivia - a morning 4WD trip to Bodegas Wineries & Concepcion - so much fun!

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Monday morning 8 a.m. and it is freezing cold as we wait in the main square of Tarija (pronounce Tareeha) for the mini bus to take us on the "Tour of the Wine".
The square comes to a halt.
Everyone jumps out of their cars and stands to attention, and those walking stop.
The band (you can just see on the far left) strike up the national anthem of Bolivia.
I love the patriotism.
As soon as it is over, people start to run - late for work!

We wait and around 8.30 a.m. some traditional folk come and set up a bread festival stand.
We are hoping now that in a few minutes we will get to try some.
but just as we hope, a lady wanders up and speaks English.
She is from the Tour - and leads us to a 4WD.
There is also a lady from La Paz who will join us.
A small group, so no mini van.

Firstly we head to Kohlberg.
It is a pretty mainstream factory - and I am instantly disappointed.
I worked in the wine industry in Australia, and I wanted boutique wineries, not this.
But, it is my fault as I never researched the tour enough - presumption is always a bad thing.
My son has already decided this is "Mum's day".
We often take it in turns, so he has brood technology to keep himself amused.
When there is things to learn, he stops and joins in.
To make matters worse, the factory has a maintenance day, so there is nothing happening.

We the head to the Kohlberg family estate, and this is quite a pretty area, but being winter here, it is dry and barren.  My son enjoys a run in the vineyards.
We are given a tasting of Kohlberg wine, and taught to taste the wines.


It is interesting to see how she explains to taste, as I worked in Cellar Door of a winery, and the technique I used to wine-taste is different - I even picked up a tip!

We get to try cheese, and some smoked ham from the region too.
Both are lovely - but at 10.30 a.m. this is a surprise!
Our friend from La Paz seems somewhat serious.

Unfortunately, the Kohlberg family dogs are not so friendly and one snarls at my son, and scares the living daylights out of him.  It is a pretty family estate.

We then head off to see the Canon Angostura, and the river area.  It is breathtaking.
We are told this wine area is the world's highest vineyards, but I am not sure if this is correct.
I have tasted some mighty fine Sauvignon Blanc from both New Zealand, and from the Snowy Mountains in Australia.

The river area is just gorgeous.
The water from here is channelled to the vineyards.
Sand is removed by many lorries on a daily basis - as needed, and you can see one in the distance below.

We head into a sleepy town for some more wine tasting.
We pass these donkeys - I believe they are wild?

We end up at Las Duelas tasting room for small vineyards.
By now I am getting really disappointed.
There seems to be no quaint little family vineyards I expected.
So I buy some great dried fruit grown locally.
I also buy a bottle of boutique red wine "Sfarcich Cabernet Sauvignon" which is rather delightful.
In fact I am enjoying a glass now as I blog!

We then head to Concepcion.  Here we visit Casa Viejo - the 400 year old vineyard.
Here you can try patero - or foot stamped wine.

The walls are made of a mix of cow dung, straw and mud and remain in good condition.

Inside, it is like time has stood still.  Now I am happy!  Tradition - yeah!!

We are taken firstly into an old barrel room - where the barrels are used for up to 100 years.
We also see the stomping troughs.
Next is the view of the vineyards - this place is massive and set up for tourists on the weekend, but all is quiet on a Monday.
We are lead to the tasting room - big bottles of wine and large glasses are filled for us to taste.

Our tour guide is fun now.  She teaches us how to taste with the tradition of Tarija.
You must "salute" before you drink, and then drink all and pass on.  If you fail to do so, you drink double.  This is a true tradition.
By about glass number 5, Blanca our friend from La Paz is having a wow of a time, and we are laughing so hard.

Then comes the trick.  They tell us the final glass is water, but it isn't - it is Singani, and we both choke!
We head out to the courtyard, where my son is having a dance - I really loved our visit here.

We head off - back to town for a traditional lunch, and then we had an afternoon tour.
Glad we finished here - this was exactly what I had hoped for - and the foot stomped wine was pretty good too!

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