“A long and arduous journey for those living down South, but the trip to Singaraja was for good reason. We were brought by Sababay wines to visit Bali’s local grape farmers on the dry northern coast to hear their stories; it has been a difficult life for the men and women of ‘the vine’.“ In the past, Bali was home to over a thousand hectares of grape farms. From one end of Buleleng Regency in North Bali to the other, green and red fruits hung from their vines. The land is dry yet fertile, ideal for grape growing. However over the years, for what was once a ‘fruitful’ industry, the grape farmers were being left behind; the grape market fell and the farmers suffered.

“A long and arduous journey for those living down South, but the trip to Singaraja was for good reason. We were brought by Sababay wines to visit Bali’s local grape farmers on the dry northern coast to hear their stories; it has been a difficult life for the men and women of ‘the vine’.“

In the past, Bali was home to over a thousand hectares of grape farms. From one end of Buleleng Regency in North Bali to the other, green and red fruits hung from their vines. The land is dry yet fertile, ideal for grape growing. However over the years, for what was once a ‘fruitful’ industry, the grape farmers were being left behind; the grape market fell and the farmers suffered.

Today, only a few hundred hectares of Bali are used for farming grapes. Many farmers have sold their land for the prospect of quick and easy money and encourage their children to find jobs in tourism down south.

Mrs.Mulyati, owner of Sababay wines met these suffering farmers and immediately felt the need to help. This was the birth of Sababay, one of two locally grown and processed wines in Bali.

Sababay teamed up with farmer’s cooperative group Asteroid Vineyards, run locally by Luki, a man passionate to see the farmers treated fairly. Luki and his team have researched the best methods of growing grapes in Bali, improving yield and productivity. Luki told us that the hardest part however, was changing the farmers’ mindset, who were reluctant to change their traditional farming ways. With the promise of stable payment and help and education in farming, finally they rallied behind Luki.

Sababay now has 80 hectares of land growing grapes for them, which empowers around 300 farmers, who are now able to support their families. “Before, farmers were sending their kids to cruise ships, now they tell me they can afford to send them to university!” Luki tells us.

We were then brought to the vineyards. They were relatively humble sights compared to vineyards of the established Wine countries, but with the magnificent Bedugul highlands as their backdrop, they radiated the essence of Bali. As Singaraja is not known to be a touristic area the local people seemed to be firmly rooted in their simpler traditional lives – a refreshing sight for those living their busy lives in the webs of modern civilization. The vines were planted on pergolas, thus hung from wires at head height; the locals explained that pigs and chickens would eat away at the sweet fruit otherwise. 

The grape trade is once again growing in Bali. The rate in which farmers are selling their precious land is decreasing, with the hopes given to them through the local wine industry. Many accustomed to wines of the Old and New Worlds may shrug at the thought of ‘New Lattitude’ wine. But Sababay has proven by winning the silver award at this year’s Wine and Spirit Asian Wine Challenge with its newest wine Moscato d’Bali, that Bali’s local grapes and farmers can in fact bring real quality into the wine world.

With now 5 types of wine being made (Moscato d’Bali, Ludisia, White Velvet, Pink Blossom and Black Velvet) and with approximately 100 new farmers hoping to join, Sababay is succeeding in protecting Balinese land and empowering local people. They are putting Real Bali straight into our wine glass.

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