Vino Ar­san finds gold in In­dige­nous Berries

Let’s Eat - - NEWS - By ARGIE C. AGUJA

Shin­ing from a pool of 2,299 to­tal en­tries world­wide, the pres­ti­gious Wine­Maker Magazine be­stowed a gold medal to Filipino vint­ner Ar­turo “Art” Olarte and his son Joshua of Vino Ar­san En­ter­prises dur­ing the 2018 Wine­Maker In­ter­na­tional Am­a­teur Wine Com­pe­ti­tion in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, USA last May. The an­nual com­pe­ti­tion reg­u­larly draws am­a­teur wine­mak­ers who stack up the best wines in the world. It con­tin­ues to be the sin­gle largest and most di­verse col­lec­tion of hobby wines as­sem­bled un­der one roof. And in this bat­tle of the best wines, Vino Ar­san’s win­ning en­try — red wine made from an artis­tic mix of lipote and big­nay in­dige­nous berries — man­aged to im­press the judges and se­cure a gold medal in the Berry Fruit cat­e­gory.


A me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer by pro­fes­sion in Diesel and Hy­dro Power Plants, Art be­gan his pas­sion for wine­mak­ing in Saudi in 2008 when he ex­per­i­mented mak­ing sadiki, a type of home­made liquor. “I like do­ing some­thing when I’m not do­ing any­thing. And of all my hob­bies, this is my fa­vorite love, my pas­sion. I also had my share of failures be­cause I lacked the proper knowl­edge, so I at­tended sev­eral wine­mak­ing classes in the US,” he re­calls. In 2016, after gain­ing enough knowl­edge, con­fi­dence and with prod­ding from fam­ily and friends who en­joyed his sam­ple works, the Pi­noy vint­ner de­cided to join the 2016 Wine­Maker In­ter­na­tional Com­pe­ti­tion in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, USA, and won two Sil­ver medals and one Bronze medal out of 2,981 en­tries. This led them to for­mally es­tab­lish Vino Ar­san En­ter­prises — lit­er­ally mean­ing “wine” made by ARt and his wife Su­SAN. The ven­ture started in their house garage be­fore they moved to their com­pound in Parañaque.


At his project site in Que­zon Prov­ince, Art found an abun­dance of lipote and big­nay berries in the Sierra Madre and eastern se­aboard. These are small round fruits that ap­pear like plump grapes. Notic­ing the un­canny re­sem­blance of the berries to the grapes used for wine, he im­me­di­ately thought of us­ing it as a wine in­gre­di­ent. He also found the po­ten­tial of the more com­mon big­nay berries. But un­like other wine­mak­ers who have their own farms and vine­yards, Vino Ar­san re­lies on lo­cal sources for the berries. Sens­ing an op­por­tu­nity, the fa­ther and son duo struck a deal with lo­cal farm­ers who of­ten over­looked the po­ten­tial of the lipote and big­nay trees. Many see these only as a source of fire­wood since the berries have no com­mer­cial value. “We ap­proached farm­ers and told them that we’ll buy the fruits if they don’t cut the trees. We are hop­ing that the farm­ers and our sup­plier com­mu­ni­ties see the value in keep­ing the trees for a sus­tain­able liveli­hood and as means to fight the ef­fects of global warm­ing and cli­mate change,” adds Joshua.


As part of the ad­vo­cacy of rais­ing aware­ness on the unique qual­i­ties and health ben­e­fits of Philip­pine-made wine, Vino Ar­san also con­ducts wine­mak­ing classes, mostly in farms and agrib­ased com­mu­ni­ties that have an abun­dance of fruits which can serve as raw ma­te­ri­als. Here, par­tic­i­pants learn the com­plete process with hands-on demo af­ter­wards. “Ev­ery­body can af­ford to drink wine. By teach­ing home-based brew­ers, we make lo­cal wine vi­able and more read­ily avail­able for the mar­ket — cre­at­ing liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties for the com­mu­nity,” Art shares. When Vino Ar­san took home the gold medal, it val­i­dated the Filipino skill in win­ery. Even at this early stage, signs point that lo­cal berries and Pi­noy tal­ent can cap­ti­vate the at­ten­tion of the world. Soon, the coun­try may be known as a source of top-notch, fine wine made from in­dige­nous Philip­pine berries. It won’t be long now.

Award-win­ning vint­ner Arthur Olarte (right) and son, Josh (left).

2018 In­ter­na­tional Am­a­teur Wine Com­pe­ti­tion Gold Medal in Berry Fruit cat­e­gory

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