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I’ll start today with a brief news update about the clutch – as it happens. John found a Toyota dealer 1 km from the hotel. They will look at the car today and by 5 pm will be able to tell us what needs doing. So today will be a mixture of taking in the local sights, exchanging some money, sorting images etc and at 15:00 hrs we climb on a bus for a tour of the wine route with a visit to one of the vineyards. Life as a cactus explorer is tough!

I spent the morning with various stop admin tasks on the internet including chats with Angie. Our guided vineyard tour was conducted by Jeff, a young Californian from near Palm Springs whose parents had moved to Bolivia. So no language barriers here. Great!  Our first stop was at Campos de Solana. This was a modern winery, full of shiny equipment, similar to the much larger operations that we have seen in seen at Concha y Toro and Santa Rita near Santiago in Chile, that are better known in the UK. In fact, I have never seen Bolivian wine offered for sale in the UK. Their sales pitch is that the highest vineyards in the world provide them with exceptional grapes. The vineyards are located in Santa Ana  with grapes and oak barrels imported from France. The Wines of Campos de Solana are produced in modern facilities with the latest equipment and technology from France.

The second establishment was more like a wine store – we saw no vineyards and no evidence of actual wine making in progress – a bit disappointing. We could taste one of the wines, but even at low Bolivian prices, none of us were tempted to buy a bottle.

The third establishment was a step back in history, old rustic buildings, including a restaurant, lots of old casks and a shop where we were invited to try the various wines on offer, but from a glass for each wine, passed around our group – I trust that none of us had foot in mouth disease! We found the drinks offered rather too sweet for our pallets, but a few bottles in attractive artisan containers were bought for friends back home. I hope that the wine does not strain the friendships too much! I resisted the temptation, having already bought a bottle for John at the first Bodega, in gratitude for his staying at the hotel to manage any repairs need on our car. Thanks John

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