On February 16th 1993 - her 19th birthday - a visitor at Los Parronales spent three hours in a fridge.
The grape harvest was in full swing and we were exporting our first crop of Thompson seedless grapes. It was all hands on deck, or rather in the barn, the temporary packing shed. That day, sticky and aching after hours spent filling cardboard boxes with juicy bunches, we sighed with relief, as the truck swayed out of the gate. The call came an hour later. 150 of our boxes were missing plastic liners. If we didn’t drive over to the company plant to fix them, the delivery couldn’t be accepted.
It took three of us, wrapped in coats, leggings, hats and gloves, three hours to do that job. 180 minutes, locked in a giant fridge, bent over a long table, opening, emptying, inserting, filling, opening, emptying… to repack those luscious clusters, teeth chattering, feet frozen, fingers numb.
We don’t treat visitors like that nowadays. In the Chilean summer of 2013, our guests will write, read, relax, walk and swim. We don’t expect help in the vineyard, except that they wander through and maybe bless the crop with a poem. (We did stop on our return to treat our guest to supper with a spongy, lucuma-filled birthday cake.)
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