Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 22

Day 22  January 25, 2008


    There are many family owned fruit companies in Uruguay and today we enjoyed visiting some of the great ones.  Our host, Rodolfo Fitipaldo, began by driving us to the Santa Rosa winery. This family owned firm began in 1898 and is the premier producer of sparkling wine in the country.  Last year they produced over 300,000 bottles by the "Champagne method" and many more of tannat, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.  The cousin of Rodolfo, Juan Pablo Fitipaldo, is the winemaker and he gave us a great tour.  He introduced us to Daniel Mutio, one of the owners.  He told us about the cost of shipping a container of wine to Florida ($4,000 and it contains 15,000 bottles of wine.)  Daniel showed us the large subterranean cave where they were about to entertain a large crowd from one of the huge cruise ships that sail to Antarctica.  This tourist business has been a boon to many local wineries.  As we left the tour buses arrived and the cruise passengers enjoyed a feast of roasted meat, wine and tango dancing.

      As we drove on Rodolfo told us about his hobby, racing horses.  His favorite horse, Berli Babe, is racing on Sunday at Punta del Este.  Last night Carneval began with wild parades and concerts.  The big horse race is part of the celebration.

     Next we went to an orchard and met Juan Fernando Corbone, an Ingeniero Agrenomo who advises growers and warehouses on horticultural practices.  With him we walked through several pear and apple orchards.  They are in the middle of Royal Gala and Bartlett pear harvest so we met some pickers, tractor drivers and took great photos.  We visited the Indio packing shed that Fitipaldo owns and watched them packing Galas for Italy and pears for Brazil. The office staff showed us how they do the paperwork for international sales.  On the wall they had a Washington Apple Commission poster showing all the major apple varieties and a big red WAC logo.  It seemed odd to see them here in Uruguay, but shows the worldwide reach of our brand and logo.

     At about 2pm we went to Bodega Bouza, a fantastic boutique winery, to enjoy lunch and walk around the vineyard. Rodolfo ordered for everyone and we each had a huge steak in Tannat wine sauce.  After lunch we visited other orchards to see the very tight planting of new Bartlett and Abate Fetel pears.  The trees are one-half meter apart.  This will result in 9000 trees per hectare.  It looks too close to me, but they believe it will yield 60 tons to the hectare within 5 years.  We took some great photos of Pink Lady apples and Galas.  Their big problem is scab as they had seven days of rain in the spring and could not get on top of the disease.  The Red Delicious have poor shape as there is little temperature difference between the day and night here.  The climate is much warmer than home; palm trees and lemon trees are as common as apple and pears.  But on the way home, Gail finally did see a heard of cows being driven by "gouchos" down the middle of the dirt road.  Sadly they were milk cows in Uruguay and not the beef cattle of the Pampas she has been looking for.  Still, it was a great day.  Very generous people and successful family businesses.



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