Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Wake at 6:30. On the bus by 7:30. An hour (or four) later, step off the motor coach onto the bone-dry, dusty red soil of a vineyard filled with 40, 60, 100 year old vines. Back on the bus, a short trip to the winery for the tour and tasting, followed by a sumptuous lunch. Full and sleepy from the jamón, rich soup, whole crab, lamb and leche frita as well as the two or three glasses of wine we get back on the bus. An hour or two through the dry, unchanging landscape of stony hills, vines, olives, abandoned sheep cotes and shattered 12th century fortresses to the next vineyard to see the vines, the tanks, the barrels, and taste the wines. By now, it is 9-9:30 so the wine maker leads us to the long table, four wine glasses at each setting and the feast begins. Around 1 AM we say goodnight to our too-generous host and and drive the hour to the hotel. A small group of us gather at the bar for a beer, to debrief, to talk about the wines. Then bed for most to catch 3 hours of sleep before the cycle starts again. But for me, I'm in a village or city I may never see again so I walk or go for an hour's run at 2:30 or 3 AM. Back to the hotel, check email and sleep fast for two hours, knowing I can grab an hour here or there on the bus. Repeat for 10 days.