When you picture La Union you’ve got visions of blue – the sea, the sky, and the brown-shaded sand. But do you know that La Union has it’s own vineyard?
I think San Juan has the most intimate rhythms of the earth. It may not be the most instagram-worthy if I were to compare it with Siargao, Baler and Bali but its waves are the most sensitive. Its rough and tame all at the same time (parang sex lang charot). The experience is in between what frightens you most and what makes you feel alive. The more intimate you are with the waves of San Juan – the more you understand its ways – the more you're able to play with its energy. The more you let yourself feel all that's there, the safer you realize you actually are. It's the shortest yet the best surfing experience I've ever had.
The story of how LU’s first vineyard came to be goes back in 1972 in a small barangay called Urayong in Bauang, La Union. It was here that Avelino Lomboy of Lomboy farms planted 20 grape cuttings as a hobby and hoped his effort would come to fruition. After several years, his farm grew to 500-hectares and supplied 90% of the country’s grapes. He was then hailed as the “Philippine Grape King” and has developed several fruits particularly the “guapple”.
I’ve surfed in Baler, Siargao, Bali, and had fantasized for years about riding the San Juan rhythms so we decided to have a quick trip last January. I’ve never seen a vineyard before so we included a visit to an LU vineyard in our itinerary. We went to Grapuz Grapes Farm, also located in Bauang. It was a jeep, a mini-bus, and a tricycle ride from San Juan. Grapuz Grape farm is also one of the growers of grapes in LU established in the 70s and owned by the Grapuz. It was a slice of Napa Valley in a tropical country. Here are some of the photos we took during our visit.
As you can see some of the grapes are still green. The farmers said that the harvest season is summer, some time around May.
The Farm fee/Photo fee is 20Php and the grapes are sold for 250php/kilo.
You can also buy wines in Grapuz. They have red wines with 5% alcohol content and guapple wine at 9% alcohol content. I thought their wines were sweeter than the normal wine more of like a juice to me probably because of high residual sugar. They also sell growing sprouts and pure honey.
How to get to Grapuz Grape farm from San Juan:
1. Take a Jeepney from San Juan to San Fernando town proper. (Minimum fare)
2. From San Fernando we took a mini-bus bound for Bauang. I suggest you advise the driver to drop you off at Bauang market. The fare is 11php and trip will take about less than 30 min.
3. From Bauang Market take a tricycle to Grapuz grape farm. We hired a tricycle for 150php per way good for 4 pax. Ask the driver to wait for you as it’s hard to get a transportation back to Bauang town proper.
Grapuz Grapes Farm
Location: Brgy. Urayong, MacArthur Highway, Bauang, La Union
Operating Hours: 7am – 6pm
Phone Number: (072) 705 2013
FB page: http://facebook.com/gapuzgrapesfarm