Work Abroad but earn in USD

Monday, January 19, 2009

Anuva Vinos in the News

I just have to share how exciting it is to have wrapped up our successful 2008 U.S. tasting tour with our first pieces of press! The Oregonian, Oregon’s major daily paper, called Anuva a “tremendous bang for the buck.” The wine professionals at Stoller Vineyards and Winery, one of Oregon’s famed Pinot Noir producers, concurred with The Oregonian saying that they too were “impressed not only by the wines… but also with the value.” We certainly agree with that and are excited to bring you more great values in 2009.

Owning up to this promise, we recently added 12 new wines from nine different wineries to the club collections that illustrate everything from the classic Argentine varietals that Anuva specializes in—Malbec and Torrontés—to exotic wines like Tannat, Bonarda and even a Tannat/Malbec blend aptly title “Pozo del Diablo”. With only 1500 bottles produced, this one won’t last long.

On the agenda to start off the new year is a visit to Mendoza and Salta, two of Argentina’s most exciting viticultural regions. We’ll be there to taste new wines, meet with winemakers, and tour new wineries so that we can find and assemble the next exclusive collection to export to our Anuva Vinos members the U.S. Along the way we hope to document our experiences with the wines and winemakers on film so that we can share them with you!

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Gay Community in Buenos Aires

In response to the prior post on attitudes toward gays in Argentina, I would say that certainly Buenos Aires is a gay friendly destination. Besides having one of the only two "gay hotels" in the world (the Axel--which jokingly calls itself "hetero-friendly"), there are many gay clubs, gay and lesbian activities and events, not to mention the fact that Argentina hosted the Gay World Cup (of soccer) in 2008. There is even a gay wine store in Buenos Aires with its own Gay Wine label. Obviously many gay friendly activities, organizations and businesses exist here. Negative attitudes toward gays and derrogatory language, however, are quite common as well. Calling someone a "puto" or "maricon" can be heard at any sporting event, just like in the US. I would say that the two cultures are very similar in this respect. In the provinces also, much like in rural America, attitudes are much more oppresive. This is probably what leads many gays to flock to bigger, more gay friendly cities in general around the world. With a larger community that is socially more liberal and accepting, life is easier.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

10 Questions for Geoff W. in Rio Gallegos, Santa Cruz

EDITORS NOTE: This is another post in our series of Expat Interviews. Let us know if you know someone who would be a good person to interview and we will try to do it. Geoff is from Alabama (US) and currently lives as an exchange student full time in Santa Cruz province with an Argentine host family, he is a full time student.

1. Where were you born, where else have you lived, and where are you living now? I was born in Huntsville, AL, I have lived in Seoul, Korea, Washington D.C., and Portland, Oregon. I now live in Rio Gallegos, the Capital of the Provincia de Santa Cruz in Southern Patagonia.

2. Who did you move to Argentina with? When? I moved to Argentina by myself as a university exchange student. I have been here since the beginning of August.

3. What made you pick Argentina? I had studied Spanish in High School for 4 years and wanted to take the leap towards fluency. I had the option of studying and living with a host family in either Panama or Argentina. I chose Argentina for its geographic and cultural diversity.

4. What is the best part about living in Argentina? The worst? The best two parts of living in Argentina are the people and the food. The people are very warm and open and asado is delicious. The worst part of living in Argentina is the unreliability of absolutely everything. Although I've learned to not take hot water for granted, I sometimes find it difficult to get things done with so many strikes.

5. How do you make your living? I am a student so I am not currently earning a living.

6. What is a typical day like for you? A typical day usually goes like this: 10 AM: Wake up, eat breakfast, 11 AM: Head to the gym, 1 PM: Eat lunch, 2 PM: Begin working on homework, 5 PM: Drink Mate with my host family, 8 PM: Go to class, 11 PM: Eat dinner, 12 AM: Go out with friends if it's Friday!

7. How has living in Argentina changed your life? Living with an Argentine family has taught me to be more patient and accepting of others. Also, I had never really realized how fortunate I was to have had been born into the life that I was born into. I guess that fits into not taking things for granted but there have been a few moments when I've thought "wow this person works just as hard as me for half of the reward, and they're still grateful for what they have."

8. How does living in Argentina differ most from living in your home country? At an orientation I attended before heading down here we discussed the iceberg cultural model where the tip of the iceberg represents the cultural differences that are immediately apparent (e.g. food, clothing, architecture). Once you get beyond the tip you start to notice true cultural values. In regards to these big differences I would have to say the biggest is the pace of life. Everything is sped up in the United States. We buy pre-prepared meals, check e-mail on our phones while we are traveling, and we speed through the grocery store line rapidly. In Argentina more time is spent with family and friends and multi-tasking is driving down the road and drinking maté at the same time. Argentines are also much louder and much more expressive than Americans (it's got to be the Italian roots).

9. What are your future plans in Argentina? When are you planning on leaving? I'll be finishing the school year up at the end November. In December my family from the United States will join me to visit El Calafate and Buenos Aires. After that I plan on spending January and February traveling with my host family through Argentina and perhaps to Santiago de Chile. I'll resume school in March and head back to the U.S. in July or August.

10. What one tip would you pass on to a future expat moving to Argentina? The best tip I can give to an expat headed down south is to come informed, yet without expectations of what your life will be like. If you come with expectations of what life will be like down here and then it doesn't turn out to be true you're bound to be disappointed. I always have a mental picture of what a place will be like before I travel there. It's never correct. However, it doesn't hurt to talk to someone that has traveled or, better yet, has lived here.

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Are Gays Welcome in Argentina? Is it OK to be Openly Gay in Buenos Aires?

We get many emails into this blog asking us about Argentina, and Buenos Aires in particular. People in the US & Europe have been increasingly asking us about whether or not Argentina is a Gay friendly destination... I will put out my guess below, from my experience as a non gay US citizen with lots of Argentina experience, but I wanted to start a discussion here with some expats, travelers, and Argentines on this topic.

What do you think? Are Gays welcome in Argentina? Would they be looked at in a hostile way, or welcomed? Is Buenos Aires more cosmopolitan, and more welcoming than the provinces, or are just certain parts of BA very gay friendly?

I think BA is pretty open to gays, I know several openly gay men and see others frequently, I think here it's like New York, it's not a big deal. I have not heard about how Gays are taken in the provinces though, my guess is that it would be similar to rural US locales, some places would be more curious, and others may range from indifferent to maybe not tolerable. As you can see in this CNN article below, Argentina as a government has Gay friendly policies that are better than the US affords it's Gay citizens, and the IHT article claims Gay tourism is booming in BA. Let us know if you have any unique perspective in the comments below.

More reading on the subject:

Argentina Grants Gay Couples Partner Pensions
Macho Argentina Warms to Gay Dollars and Euros

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Anuva in NYC

Since many of you dear readers ended up responding to my last post about our launch tour, I thought I would give an update. The response has been so strong in our first 3 weeks in NYC and SF that we are going back to NYC to do more private wine tastings. Our available dates in New York City are:
  • December 8 (8pm only)
  • December 9, 13, 14
We also have some dates in Portland, OR between 12/18 and 1/05 The cost is still 175 dollars per GROUP of 6-12 and includes:
  • 6 bottles of our limited production wines
  • set-up and clean-up
  • the presentation
  • pairing suggestions
Please call or email to book a date:
  • 310-601-8279

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Anuva Vinos Lauch Tour in the U.S.

Dearest Readers, I thought I would take this opportunity to announce that I am bringing some Argentine culture to the U.S. As some of you know, my fiancée Lourdes and I recently started an exclusive wine club called Anuva that sources limited production wines from Argentina for its members. We will be doing private wine tastings to launch the club in select US cities on the following dates:
  • New York City: October 27-November 9
  • Los Angeles: November 9-November 27
  • Portland, OR: November 27-January 6, 2009
Tastings will be led by Daniel and will be for groups of 6-10 people, 12 max. Each group tasting includes:
  • 6 different wines guaranteed to please. All limited production and exclusive.
  • The glassware
  • Set-up/clean-up
  • The witty banter (he does a very good presentation I would say)
A host would need to invite the people, provide the space, and could contribute optional food items. Daniel will consult for this upon request (without charge of course). Larger groups can be accommodated, but please contact Daniel to discuss the particulars or if you have any questions:
Daniel Karlin Founder, Anuva Vinos 310-601-8279 (call this US number to reach the office in Buenos Aires) Thanks!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Incredible Monedas Story

The train in Buenos Aires is a very common way to travel. Tickets cost 65-75 centavos depending on how far you are going. Yesterday I was headed out to provincia on the train, and the guy in front of me was buying a ticket with a 2 peso bill. The woman asked him if he had a larger bill or exact change. He said no. She let him pass without paying. The incredible thing is that SHE HAD CHANGE!!! Because then I stepped up to buy my ticket with a 2 and she said the same thing to me. So I pulled out a 5 and she gave me 2, 2 peso bills and 35 cents in coins as change. Clearly, she had been instructed to not give more than a certain amount of coins as change. Amazing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Problem with Monedas (Change/Coins)

This is really really annoying. To the point that I have to actually ask the question: is a single peso coin worth more than a two peso note? The answer is quite clearly yes! Several situations, the most recently of which just happened right now, as I sit here in this fair coffee shop, have popped up in the last week. Ok, so everyone knows that change is hard to come by in Argentina, that breaking 100 peso notes is hard, and that the buses only take coins, but it seems as if no one really understands the gravity of this problem. Here are a few situations: 1. Cab driver gives me a two peso note as change when I paid with a 20 for a fare that was 19.12. He would rather give the two peso note and LOSE MONEY than give up his coins. 2. Coffee shop last friday. Bill is 9 pesos. I pay with a 10 peso note. No change is given. I asked for the coin. Then they asked me for a coin so they could give me a two peso note. Why should I even have to ask for my change? I said I would leave an extra two peso note as tip if they gave me the coin. They said NO!!! (and they even laughed about it) 3. Coffee shop just now. Bill is 14. I pay with a 5 and 10. 1 peso change is due. No change is offered. Same situation as 2 (but a different location). 4. (And here is the kicker...) I go to the bank to get change. I walk to the front of the line to change a 5 into 5 coins. They say that they will only give 3. That their policy has changed. 5 is too much now. Oh, and also, I have to wait in the line of 40 people to do a transaction that will take all of 30 seconds. So the bank is putting up barriers (lowering/taking away incentives) to actually have correct change. Don't people realize that they are paralyzing their own economy when they do this? That when the people at the supermarket, or kiosk, or corner store refuse to make sales because they do not want to lose coins that there are dead weight losses? Everywhere down here there are signs posted (subway, train, stores, etc) that say "No hay monedas" or "Colaboren con monedas", and this does not help the problem. People are so afraid of giving away coins that they hoard them. I have seen many many kiosks that refuse to sell me a 10 centavo item for a 2 peso note because they know that I just want the change. So then I offer to buy something worth 1 peso, so I can still get the 1 peso moneda, and ride the bus--and they still refuse! This amounts to economic insanity. When the value of a one peso coin clearly outweighs the value of 2 pesos printed on paper, something is drastically wrong with the system. There are only 2 things that I see as possibilities: 1. People need the coins to take the bus. This is really the only thing in the whole of Argentina that operates only on coins. The bus system is also extremely extensive and is probably the main mode of transportation (although I don't have exact figures and the subway could be more) and as such, requires a huge influx of coins to operate. So the only logical explanation is that this huge influx of coins is not balanced by an equal outflow (i.e. the bus companies don't go to the bank and deposit these coins in their accounts thus giving the banks enough coins to give unlimited quantities as they do in the U.S. and other developed countries). But why would the bus companies do this? The only explanation I can come up with here is that they don't trust the banks and therefore hoard coins. Yikes. Anyone else have a thought on this? 2. There actually aren't enough coins in circulation. Supply and demand. Under supply and high demand. Again, the only place where there is a real high demand and no counterbalance is the bus system. Would it be possible to solve both problems (because they are not mutually exclusive) with a card system? As in people buy 10 peso or 20 peso bus cards that can be punched or scanned and avoid this change issue. I think that's wishful thinking.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Malbec in Argentina and Buenos Aires: Fad or Forever

Malbec has been long known as the signature grape of Argentina, but only recently has it achieved the fame and notoriety it deserves. My business Anuva Vinos, deals directly with this fine product of Argentina, and many of the tourists and expats who know a lot, or know very little, of its existence. As far as I know, though (and I do quite a bit of research on the subject), Anuva is the only company that provides wine tastings for tourists who are visiting Buenos Aires. This seems very ironic since the wine is becoming so popular in the U.S. and other countries. Why would it be so hard to find a good wine tasting in Buenos Aires? First of all, only since 2004 has the Malbec "boom" been taking place. It was then that critics like Robert Parker and wine experts like Michel Rolland declared Malbec, and Argentine wines in general to be worthy of world-class wine status. As many of you know, things in Argentina happen slowly, and thus, the creation of venues for tourists to taste these fine wines has gone by the wayside. Second, it is very hard in Argentina to sell wine tastings to the Argentine public. The tourist market does demand and increasingly demands fine Argentine wines, access to local wines and wine tourism, but the locals do not. Argentines themselves tend to consume a lot more table wine than fine wine, as a) very few of them can afford it and b) their culture is more one of mixing wine with soda water or coke than drinking nice wine from a crystal glass. Third, and mainly and extension of point 2, the Argentine wineries that produce the higher quality wines are looking outward for expansion. First to the U.S., then the U.K., Europe, Canada, Brazil and now China and Russia as well for growth. Per capita consumption of wine in Argentina is down from its all time high in the 1960s (when they consumed and ungodly 80 liters per capita!) and people are moving more toward beers and liquors for their spirited beverage choices. But Malbec and Argentine wine in the U.S. and elsewhere outside Argentina is booming. Exports are up 300% since 2004 and there is no end in sight. But more importantly than that, Argentine wines and Malbec especially have several things working in their favor: 1. Their price/quality relationship is unbeatable. With the lowest land costs and labor costs out of all the major wine making regions in the world, Argentina simply cannot be beat in this arena. 2. Malbec can take on many forms. From the ever popular fruit forward and smooth varietals without oak that fall in the less than 20 USD category, to the ultra-premium grand reserve Malbecs, this grape is very versital. That means something for everyone at many different price points. I highly doubt that this phenomenon will go away anytime soon, and insider information tells me that certain wine bars will be popping up in certain cities that may rhyme with the words "Cainos Haires" quite soon.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Coverage of the Olympics in Argentina II

A laconic summary of the title would be "IT SUCKS!!" So TyC Sports, the Fox and ESPN rival down here, has exclusive coverage along with Canal 7 of the Olympics. They, I just learned, had a very large hand in banning all YouTube feeds to Argentina with up to date Olympic highlights. WTF?!!? As if that weren't enough, tonight, TyC had been promoting their coverage of swimming starting at 10pm. So I, wanting to witness the historic Phelps run at 7 golds, tuned in like a schmuck. I actually believed that they were going to follow through with what they said they were going to do. At 10pm, all there was to see was fútbol. It was the beginning of the second half of some meaningless, non-historic, insignificant game in the Primera league. Same shit they have on every Friday. Except this Friday happened to be the Friday where Phelps could tie Mark Spitz record of 7/7/7. 7 gold medals and 7 world records in 7 events. Spitz did that in 1972. An athlete like this comes along once a generation. And in swimming its even more important because the world only cares about swimming and lets swimmers compete on the world stage once every 4 years. They get NO glory, NO press, and until recently (and only for the top 3 or 4 in the world) NO money. Sure Jordan was great, Bonds (epa!), Ruth, Aaron, Montana, Gretzky, Howe, Bird, Magic, etc. But all the greatest team sports players at one point had to rely on their teammates to make plays. Paxson hits a 3 to win Jordan's first 3-peat. Bonds relied on who knows what kind of "training". Montana and Rice; Bird and McHale and Parish; Magic and Careem and Worthy; etc. Phelps has Phelps. And that's it. Well, maybe his Mom in the stands. But I digress... The point here is that TyC metió la pata big time. Because when I then flipped back to TyC at around 10:20 there was nothing. 10:30, nothing 10:40... there is Phelps, celebrating, out of breath, having just won. AND THEN IMMEDIATELY THEY CUT BACK TO FÚTBOL!!! La remil puta que lo parió! At least my company Anuva deals with wine and I keep a large stock around for tastings. Time for some serious malbec.

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