I got a viber message from my friend Dom Hernandez asking if I'm free Monday for a day trip to La Union to look at vineyards. My first response was "we grow grapes in the Philippines?" and he replied with a photograph of three happy people clowning under the grape vines. I immediately marked my calendar and moved a few appointments to the evening. This was my kind of trip, only Julie Andrews can stop me from going.
The visit to the vineyards was arranged by the Department of Agriculture. The department's charming undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat invited food writers and wine connoisseurs to look at the many possibilities of these locally grown grapes.
Avelino Lomboy started planting grapes in Bauang, La Union in the 70s. President Corazon Aquino visited in 1988, picking grapes herself from Mr. Lomboy's lovely vineyard. Today, there are more vineyards in La Union. You can see them in between mango orchards and tobacco plantations. The province has wisely diversified its crops making good use of its rich soil and bright sun.
Soon, with the opening of the TPLEX, it would take only three hours from Manila to La Union by car. One can go during harvest season and enjoy grape picking and a picnic under the shade of the grape trellises.
I went home with a kilo of sweet grapes I picked myself, they go for P120./kilo. I write this in remembrance of my yaya Meding who would have been celebrating her birthday today. She would have not believed my amazing story about the vineyards but would have enjoyed the grapes for sure. Yes Meding, may ubas na sa Pilipinas.
If you love grapes and road trips, check out
|Twenty-five minutes by plane, La Union.|
|The San Fernando Airport in La Union.|
|Throwback: President Corazon Aquino visits the Lomboy vineyard, Good Friday 1988|
|The sun shines much brighter in La Union.|
|It is true! Grapes grow in the Philippines.|
|My height is just right for grape picking!|
|Sevrine Miailhe and Berna Romulo-Puyat checking out the grapes.|
|Dom Hernandez does a "GrapeFie".|
|Picnic under the trellises at the Gapuz Grape Farm.|
|Chef Henny Sison and mixologist Enzo Lim.|
|The star of our feast.|
|The future looks bright for growing grapes in the Philippines.|
|Loving grapes and loving the Philippines, Enzo Lim, Dom Hernandez, me, Berna Romulo-Puyat,|
Sevrine and Edouard Miailhe.