Chilean Couple United by Wine and English
A Love Story: Victor Moreno and Joceline Ampuero

Spotlight

At 45, Victor Moreno led a comfortable life in Chile as an operations director for his country’s second-largest wine producer. He managed three factories, traveled to wine regions around the world and got engaged. And then he decided to quit his job.

“My dream was to study English” in America and get a master’s degree in business, Victor explained to his family and friends. And to his fiancée. “It was a big decision to move to the U.S.,” he said, and a huge sacrifice on her part.

Joceline Ampuero had her own career working as a mechanical engineer for one of the biggest beverage companies in Chile. She met Victor on the job and they worked together for a year. “It’s been hard, I miss my lifestyle,” she concedes, “but we had to imagine what was ahead for us.”

Victor dreamed of working for an American winery one day, “to live, understand and experience the culture” before he got too old or settled in his ways. “It was now or never,” he said.

So both Victor and Joceline enrolled in the English Language Institute (ELI) at Sacramento State. Joceline already had her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and wanted to continue her professional development in the U.S. Advancing her English skills was a necessity.

“My dream was to live an American experience.” – Victor Moreno

Between classes, Victor trades emails and introduces himself to American wineries. His career started in agriculture, then he moved to the food industry and for more than a decade, he directed the operational side of the wine industry.

With a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in engineering science, he’s confident he can help improve operations within the industry. “There is new technology and better production methods, and I know the industrial culture.”

As they settled into their new lives they often traded observations. “In America, people are direct and enthusiastic,” Joceline said, “and it’s crazy to wear pajamas all the time.” She met an American nurse with a tattoo and thought it curious but concluded, “I love American culture.”

Victor noticed the handicapped parking spots and elevated ramps that made “everything accessible” for people with disabilities, something glaringly absent in other places around the world, he said.

“Sacramento is quiet, safe and beautiful.” – Joceline Ampuero

And it didn’t take long for the couple to discover a favorite hangout. ”We love shopping,” said Joceline, “we love the supermarket” where they peer around the displays, examine the packaging and marvel at the choices.

“We have five brands of chips in Chile,” remarked Joceline, “versus a thousand in America and look at all the flavors of popcorn!” To put things into perspective, Victor said, Chile has all of three flavors: lemon, salt and olive oil.

America is a mix of cultures much like Chile and the mild spring weather reminds them of home. “Sacramento is quiet, safe and beautiful,” Joceline said, “and there are so many places nearby that you can visit in one day.”

Victor bought a used car their first week in town and they’ve already driven to Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. They’re spending more time together now in the U.S. than they ever did in Chile.

“Not many people have this opportunity,” Victor says, of being able to pull up roots and plant them somewhere else. “My dream was to live an American experience.”

To learn more, please visit the English Language Institute web page.