This morning my study abroad program took us on a bus ride to Toro Winery and Zamora: beautiful, historic places in Spain. We started with a tour of Toro Winery where our guide taught us all about their process of making the wines and when and how they do things. She taught us about the kind of grapes they use and the different ways they process the grapes to make different kinds of wines, how long each wine spends in different areas like fermentation tanks and oak barrels from France and the U.S., and how that affects its quality and price. She also taught us about some of the marketing aspect of their business both overseas and in Spain, which was cool to learn about.The top picture is the fermentation tanks that made me feel like I was walking into Wonka’s factory, and the rest are the oak barrels. Each barrel costs anywhere from 350-650 euros depending on which country its from, and the different kinds also produce different effects on the wine. There were something like 2500 barrels in this room. Also, in each fermentation room the smell of the wine was very strong.
As I said, I think the marketing process for the wines is pretty cool, but this winery does something unique with their bottles. Each year they release a certain number of bottles of a certain kind of wine, I don’t remember what it was called. But each year, they have a contest with painters from all over the world where they ask them to paint something that can be turned into that year’s wine label. The top forty are held in the winery for one year, and the favorite is chosen for the label. These are some of the paintings they had. Some were contestants and some were previous winners. On the top shelf in the last picture are the labels with people’s paintings on them.They were also working on creating a museum in the winery of machinery used to make wine in the past.After that we got to taste two of the wines as well as a rare, completely natural grape juice that hadn’t been fermented yet. We also took a walk through Toro and saw some of the charming, quiet town.After Toro, we toured Zamora which is a town very near the winery. It’s famous because it has a lot of medieval architecture like a castle and remains of large walls, and it also has three roman churches. We drove by on bus and then did a walking tour to each location, but I didn’t take as many photos here because I was fighting the wind and we didn’t always have a view that a camera would do justice. It was incredible though.Finally, we drove to another small town that also works with wines and had a late lunch underground in a cave. From the outside, it looked kind of like an abandoned town with the smell of a really good barbecue. Then they took us underground, and it was lively and a really cool experience. We ate lots of pork products since that’s the staple of Spain, as well as cheese, salad, bread, and dessert. I took a short video to try and get the feel of the place.
And that’s about it for Toro and Zamora! It was a very interesting day, and I’m glad I got to learn so much and see more of Spain. It definitely helped me appreciate this country a little more. Tomorrow it’s off to Segovia!