Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Producing a local wine for Bali tourists

Here on Bali's arid north coast, far from its terraced rice paddies and nowhere near its bustling beaches, Thomas Hadi Wibowo tends to a small vineyard - one of the closest in the world to the equator - growing grapes for Hatten Wines.

"The dry soil is good for the grapes; it gives them the right sweetness," said Wibowo, 36, a former apple grower from Java, as he wandered beneath the shade of the vineyard's trellises, waving a bamboo stick to frighten birds away.

Defying the popular notion that producing quality wine in the tropics is near impossible and probably not worth the headache, especially given the added complications of global warming, Hatten has managed to establish a small but successful wine trade here, even garnering some international recognition.

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