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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - In 2013, Montevideo, Uruguay hosted a blind wine-tasting contest. Tasters sampled tannat wines, made with a grape originating (but not universally beloved) in France, that is now a prized export of Uruguay. The surprise winner: a Bolivian wine.

It was Bolivia’s first-ever grand gold medal, and, to hear Ramon Escobar, the Bolivian American co-founder of Chufly Imports, known for Bolivian wine and spirits, tell it, unbelievable to the judges. “It was such a shocker,” Escobar says, “that they would not award the medal to the Bolivian winery until they went [there] themselves . . .

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