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Shipping and Sipping Outside of Santiago

Our final major group outing in Chile involved an exploration outside of Santiago to the old port of Valparaiso and into wine country. During a foggy morning we ambled through the steep streets of this port, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, whose sister-city is appropriately San Francisco.  The buildings were painted a variety of bright primary colors to mask their construction of corrugated steel, a material used as ballast for empty ships and dumped here as they  loaded copper, fruit, lumber and other Chilean exports at this port.  The completion of the Panama Canal diminished the importance of shipping from this port, although to our untrained eyes the port seemed bustling and piled with containers during our boat ride around the bay.  The city is now home to many artists who  cover walls (indoors and out) as well as canvases with explosive and dramatic original works.



Heading away from the Pacific Ocean towards Santiago, we stopped in the Casablanca Valley, one of Chile’s wine areas, at Vineyard Veramonte.  It is autumn there and the grapes hung purple and heavy on the vines.  Harvest will be in two weeks, and we savored the sweet aromas and sweeping views on this warm, cloudless day. Guy Hooper, the winery’s Export Director for Europe and Asia, was brutally honest about the difficulty of the wine business, which is capital intensive, subject to the whims of weather and often a lifestyle decision rather than a rational business investment.




The winery is modern and produces white wines from this valley as well as reds from the vineyard’s Colchagua Valley estate, a location where vine stock originally brought from Europe in the 1800s still thrives. Peppered into the conversation was the recurring discussion of threats caused by water shortages and climate change.  Of course, all this talk of wine whetted our taste buds for a sampling of Veramonte’s production.  We sipped our wines among the dark oak barrels in the aging room as our knowledgeable host explained the various flavors and aromas we were experiencing.  Afterward we held our closing dinner with a panoramic view of the winery.  As we headed back to Santiago, I was pleased that I could share this experience with the students and am making plans to return next year.  I cannot read minds, of course, but my hope is that each of the students in the class will return with their friends and loved ones to share the wonders of this place.  Emerging marketing certainly have growing pains, but are also all-at-once historical, dynamic and at least a hint magical.

Mary Ann

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