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Adventuring Around Americas for Long-Lost Grape
Once thought extinct, the Carmenere grape will soon find a new, international audience
Paloma Baytelman Pilowsky (palomabay)     Print Article 
Published 2005-05-18 10:45 (KST)   
Cristian Munoz's team practices for the upcoming August trip on Chilean roads.
©2005 AndesWines
It's easy to have big dreams, but few people have enough enthusiasm to make them realities. This is not the case of Cristian Munoz, a Chilean engineer and wine expert, who with a group of motorcyclists in August will be begin a long trip abroad to promote a wine stock that was long believed extinct.

Over four months on two wheels, 10 Latin American and 15 American cities will witness the arrival of this stranger, who will hold wine tastings to promote Carmenere, one of the best Chilean wines, beyond his country's borders.

Munoz has baptized his journey the "Carmenere adventure," and plans to leave Santiago, the Chilean capital, in August for the Argentinean Patagonia, and to cross the continent by motorcycle.

Munoz said he chose August as the beginning of his trip because it will mark the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the stocks of Carmenere in Chile, when this grape variety was thought extinct for decades.

Cristian Munoz (right) with his BMW motorcycle and his friend Maximiliano Morales (left), a manager at Andes Wines.
©2005 AndesWines
In the early 1990s, winemakers discovered that many of the Chilean vines they had thought were Merlot were actually Carmenere, a Bordeaux varietal that up until the late 19th century in France, was used to make red wine. It was then that the phylloxera louse struck the vines; Carmenere vines were pulled and thought lost.

After crossing Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, nearly all of Central America, and Mexico, Munoz will continue his journey in Miami, the first U.S. stop. From there he will press on, visiting San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Anchorage (Alaska), Las Vegas, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington D.C., Boston and New York, where the main Chilean wine distributors, wine clubs and some gastronomical and hotel associations will gather to celebrate the arrival of this enthusiastic, 21st-century Marco Polo, as he likes to think of himself.

One important detail is that the adventurers will be cameramen too, with cameras mounted on each motorcycle, filming the entire route. One of the main objectives of the trip is to make a small film about the experience, showing the distinct wine valleys found along the way.

With this adventure, Munoz wants to add a new chapter to the wine history of his country, but mainly, to give new and innovative parameters of wine promotion, marketing Chilean wine in the international marketplace.

Until now, Munoz's initiative has obtained specialized press attention, national and international. It has also generated interest among the more important Chilean vineyards, which have offered to sponsor his epic trip.

From a dreamer's mind, some fantasies become reality, when there is a high dose of enthusiasm.
For more information about Munoz's trip, check www.andeswines.cl
©2005 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Paloma Baytelman Pilowsky

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