The misión grape, is back to the caribbean
On October 11th during the vigil, undoubtedly everything pointed to land was nearby. The agitation among sailors could be noticed until Rodrigo de Triana, at two o clock in the morning of October 12th, 1492, shouted with passion that he could make out land in the distance.
The three ships took down the sails and desperately waited for the dawn to explore an island defined by Columbus as follow: “This Island is quite big and flat and has very green trees, and much water, and a lagoon very big in the middle”.
That is how the history of this fertile land began which aroused curiosity, dream and above all, commerce. Potatoes, chocolate, tobacco, tomatoes and corn crossed the Atlantic Ocean to take root in Spain. The sugarcane, rice, oranges, wheat and also, the wine came from opposite direction.
In 1493, priests of the Franciscan Order introduced the mission grape because they needed wine for the celebration of Eucharist, and this highly valued but limited liquid had to be imported from Spain. Indeed, the wine, at that time, was used not only for quenching thirst but also for medicinal purposes and drinking it was safer than water. For these reasons, missionaries decided to be constantly supplied by planting vine around the missions. In this way, the Franciscans became vine-growers.
Five centuries later, less than 62 miles to Santo Domingo city, between southern cities Azua and Baní, the fifth generation of mission grape grows in Ocoa Bay. It is a vineyard resort of two million square meters placed in the heart of Ocoa Bay and inside the Francisco Caamaño national park. It is considered an unusual site because it is the only part of the Central mountain range that makes contact with the Caribbean Sea and has a microclimate that provides benefits to grapevine growth and performance. In this sense, the harvest time is twice in one year
In one hectare on calcareous ground, about 21.600 grapevines of Tempranillo, French Colombard, Grappa, Armagnac, Red Globe grapes, Moscato de Hamburgo and an experimental vineyard with some varieties of Mencía, Tempranillo, Garnacha and Charelo are developed in the project during the period of Bordeaux plantation.
In this experimental vineyard of 12 hectares, 15.000 bottles of white, red, pink and sparkling wine are produced. In each pruning, twice a year, the cultivable land multiplies. For this reason, it is expected in a two years period to produce 60,000 bottles of Mencía, Tempranillo, Garnacha and Charelo and a sparkling wine that has been created as of mango and chinola. It has been named KI, which means spirit of the land in Taino language.
For manufacturing quality improvement, the grapes are under an environment of classic music six hours a day. They are absolutely sure if the temperature, humidity or light change the wine quality, the music can produce the same effect. Thus, the focus of their attention is on how professionalizing the vine-growers work. In Ocoa Bay the 80% of vine-growers is local. As the production amount is not enough for exportation it is reserved for an exclusive market, a wine club of thousands of partners called “their chosen”. They are a group of privileged individuals carefully picked out to be part of Ocoa Bay.
Celebrities like the screenwriter, producer and film director, Francis Ford Coppola, the English business magnate Richard Branson, the lighting designer of Louvre Museum, Jean Philippe Corrigou and the most influential critics of Ribera del Duero like Luis Vicente Elías, a point of reference in the field of wine tourism and culture researches, have encouraged them to carry this endeavor on. Certainty, it could be the new Napa Valley of the Caribbean.
TEXTO: Elena Crespo; IMÁGENES:Archivo