Stories from Spain: Bodegas Gordonzello

By Ian Morfin-Valencia, 2019 cohort

I find it curious how, as I was at the winery and the plaza de toros (bullring?), I was thinking that I should have picked this excursion to write a blogpost about, thinking that I was not the person that had to write about this. About a week later, I would come to find out that I indeed picked this excursion, and also that the blogpost was late already. So here we are.

Originally, I didn’t want to go to this excursion, as the group would return to León at around 11:30, accounting for the walk home, taking a shower, and other night procedures, I would be going to bed at 12:40 or later. The day after the excursion I had an important grammar test which I wanted to study for, further discouraging me to attend. But excursions are mandatory, so I went anyway. After a short bus ride, our group arrived at a large winery isolated from the rest of town. We got a tour of the facility, we got to see the multiple machines they had to extract the juice from the grapes and ferment the sugar. I thought it was curious how humans have engineered impressive machines and complicated processes to perfectly and efficiently manufacture fancy grape juice with alcohol.

After a tour of the place our group was taken to a room upstairs to taste test the wine. Of course, special arrangements were made for the fellows to get unfermented grape juice while the adults got the real deal. Still, there was no shortage of jokes and games amongst us. It was a way for us to make light of our situation, I suppose. Also, the juice was terrible. I am not exaggerating when I say that the juice was unnaturally sweet that there wasn’t even a fruit flavor. All I could taste was the sugar. If I had not been told that it was grape, I would never have guessed what fruit it came from. I’d compare the juice to the glucose drink you are given for an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test when you get tested for diabetes. After the taste testing was done, part of the group went outside for fresh air, I liked how we were all talking and taking pictures of the vineyards under a cloudy sky. It was pretty neat.

Afterwards, we rode the bus to a town to see an old, damaged castle. I personally didn’t find the structure interesting, but I really liked how it was placed on top of a hill and on the side of a river to defend against attackers, along with other designs to hinder potential intruders like holes to pour hot oil on them, etc... The bullring was surprisingly cozy, we were allowed to go on the arena and hang out. I feel all of the group enjoyed that, it was a nice temperature and surprisingly a great environment to socialize and have conversations. People were talking and playing around. It was great.  Then, the group leader, Javier took us to a traditional Spanish restaurant as a surprise. This was my favorite part. I was feeling tired and frustrated because of the test, I really needed time to just relax and enjoy a nice meal with friends. It was the best close to the day, I enjoyed the food and the ambiance greatly. Also, if you’re reading this you have to try the croquetas, fried dough balls, and also the fried calamari. Those two are my favorite Spanish dishes by far. 

I think the excursion helped me clear my head from the worries, it wasn’t at all what I expected; there was lots of talk to just relax and socialize. I think that really helped me be prepared for the test. In the end, I got a 10 (perfect score) on the test.

Kristina Brown