On Monday, our group went on our last excursion, which consisted of two parts. We started the cold and windy day with a tour of the Bianchi Winery. Upon arriving at the winery, we explored a little and then went on a guided tour of the whole facility. We learned a lot about the wine-making process from the growing of the grapes to fermentation and bottling. Our tour began outside, where the guide explained that the grapes are all harvested by hand and that the grape vines are trained to grow a certain way so as to get the quantity of grapes they need. We also learned that the more grapes a vine produces, the lesser the quality of the wine, so the balance of growth is very important.
After moving along the front of the winery, we got to see the tanks where the wine ferments and then watched a short video. We the descended down into the barrel chamber, where the wine sits in barrels from six months up to 2 years depending on the type of wine and quality. As we moved along, we learned about the bottling process, and even saw the cages where bottles of wine are kept before they are sold. The tour ended with an explanation of the process of making champagne, including how every bottle of champagne that is made at Bianchi has its labels affixed by hand because of the type of label it is. The tour ended, bringing us back to the room where wine was available for sale – we reminded students that they could not purchase wine even for their parents (Sorry! School field trip!), so they found other ways to buy some souvenirs to bring home – I won’t go in to any details so that I do not spoil any surprises!
We once again boarded the bus and headed back into the Valle Grande territory. Our next destinations was Euca, a park of eucalyptus trees with various ropes courses hanging between them. We learned that Argentina has the ideal climate for eucalyptus trees to grow in because it is at the same latitude as Australia. As we entered the park, lunch was the first thing on the menu. After that, we all assembled at the entrance where it was explained that there were four different courses: the yellow course, the green course, the blue course and the red course. They ranged in difficulty from 1-4 (respectively), with level 1 being 4 meters off the ground and level 4 being 12 meters off the ground. After being fitted with safety gear and harnesses, all students and teachers had to complete an introductory course to make sure they knew how to use the equipment well.
After that, everyone got started on the various courses. Some of the tasks included: walking across a tight rope, zip lining, crawling through tunnels, gliding on a standing swing, climbing ladders and walking across hanging boards. Each safety harness had 2 clips, so everyone was attached to a secure rope at all times, meaning that if they were to slip they would still be well-supported. As one course was finished, may moved on to complete the next, some going in order of difficulty, while others skipped around. I cheered on people from the ground, taking pictures and not tempting fate with my fear of heights and general lack of coordination! After 3.5 hours on the course, everyone was tired out and many easily napped on the bus ride home.
Hopefully everyone rests up because Tuesday marks the second day of presentations, followed by a dance at night!