Pilipinos have traditionally known grapes as a harbinger of the Christmas season, since it is usually in the last quarter of the year when they become a common sight not only in supermarkets, but even on the sidewalk stalls.
However, in the last decade or so, more and more local farmers up to big conglomerates have taken up grape farming which has made many varieties available more often, not only for consumption, but also for farm tourism. In Luzon, Bauang, La Union is known for its local grape farms, while Twin Lakes in Laurel, Batangas is a 1,200 has. farm and tourism that is piloting the local production of grapes for the Megaworld group. Closer to home, there are the pioneer grape farms of Polomolok, South Cotabato; two others in General Santos City, one in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, and still others in Alubijid and El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental, and in Clarin, Misamis Occidental. The Vineyard at Amaya View More recently, The Vineyard opened its gates to the public at Amaya View, Indahag Hills in Cagayan de Oro City. Situated in a 2,500 square meter area of the huge Amaya View resort complex, it faces north along a valley near the Cagayan River. Some 2,000 grapevines (or hills) were planted in the Calcareous Lime soil from June 18 to December, 2021 with the first harvest on December 26 of the same year.
“The area was cut and filled in order to give way for grape planting,” said Leo Ryan A. Bayang, The Vineyard’s Agronomist/Farm Consultant. “All rootstocks and scions used for grafting were supplied by Mr. Rodrigo V. Ortiz III of Nailon, Tudela, Misamis Occidental, owner of grapes restaurant Viñard Café in Municipality of Clarin.
The project was hatched sometime last year, when Mr. Ortiz chatted with Amaya Building Administrator Raul Larita during an event at Amaya View about grapes and grape growing.
In a later meeting with now Misamis Oriental Gov. Peter M. Unabia and a series of meetings with the Amaya Management Team, the project got the green light. The project started to run by the month of April 2021 for land preparation, followed by field planting last June 18, 2021. The project is conceptualized by the owner with the idea of developing an area for grape growing and production to promote farm tourism.
“Back in the days, I had a commitment with Mr. Ortiz in 2016-2017, to assist him grow grapes in Tudela, Misamis Occidental, and help him set up a grape farm,” Leo recalls.
Five years later, when he had settled in Occidental Mindoro to raise his new family, Leo was invited by Mr. Ortiz and the Amaya View Management Team to come over to Cagayan de Oro to help set up a grape farm in Amaya View.
With the PabTek encapsulated technology for grape growing under Philippine conditions developed by his father, Leo is now the farm consultant/technician of The Vineyard.
Among the grape varieties planted in the vineyard as rootstocks are IBC and IC5 of the US and 1103 Paulsen from Germany, and table grape varieties grafted to the rootstocks originally from the US, Australia and Europe but sourced locally such as White Malaga-Green (Malaga, Spain); Concord-Bluish Black (Minnesota, USA); Joy Seedless-Black (Australia); Hope Seedless-Green Grape (USA) and Hybrid varieties like a.k.a “Amaya Red”, Atos-Violet and Everest-Red (Ukraine).
A unique variety is the Philippine Red (or Pablo-PLB-Red) which is a cross between White Malaga and Concord grapes, created by Leo’s father Pablo L. Bayang of the indigenous B’laan people of South Cotabato.
From Father to Son
Pablo L. Bayang started his self-funded research on grape growing in 1987 when Leo was but 3 years old, aiming to encapsulate technology suited for local production.
Starting with the Red Cardinal Grape, he succeeded in developing his own technology which enabled grapes to bear fruit under local conditions in Polomolok, South Cotabato.
“Through the years, I was trained under the care of my father’s passion for grapes, which wasn’t easy to start with when I was still a child more inclined to play with my friends than listen to his teaching,” Leo admits.
In time, however, the passion was passed from father to son, and Leo became an Agronomist at the Mindanao State University-General Santos City, passing the Licensure Exam for Agriculture in 2007. Today, grape growing and production remains his passion in life.
At present, The Vineyard will promote Farm Tourism as its primary goal. Already, some groups are enjoying having their events below the canopy of grapes with food served from the Amaya View kitchens nearby.
“In the future the farm can possibly engage in wine making, jam and jelly and other valued added products. More events can likewise be developed to attract more guests, such as weddings, parties, photo shoots and the like,” Leo said.
Should the Vineyard prosper, there is plenty of room for expansion in the future.
What makes The Vineyard unique among most grape farms in Mindanao is its location within the vast Amaya View theme park in the Indahag Hills of Barangay Indahag, Cagayan de Oro.
A mere 20 minute drive from downtown, Amaya View is located at the highest point in Cagayan de Oro City, where guests can enjoy a panoramic view of the city, and enjoy its various attractions such as Noah’s Ark, Casitas de Amaya, glamping at Hobbit House, dining at Amaya’s Kitchen, sipping coffee at Romana’s Café at The Pavilion, partying at Hugo Music Lounge, Larry’s Hill, dipping at the Azul Infinity Pool and having a quiet time with God at The Rock Chapel.
On top of all that, Guests can also enjoy Paragliding, since Amaya View is the home base of the Northern Mindanao Paragliding Club (NMPC).
With the advent of The Vineyard, Amaya View stays true to its vision to make it a happy place for EveryJuan.