Aside from surfing, there are other things that you can do and visit in this once-an-ordinary province. La Union is also known for its large produce of luscious grapes. But how do grapes thrive in such a tropical climate like the Philippines? All things are made possible from continuous research and hard work from the grape king of the Philippines, Mr. Avelino A. Lomboy. (Lomboy Farms, 2015)
A Little History of Lomboy Farms
It was back in the 1970s when viticulture, the study of grapes and its production, was introduced in the Philippines. The pioneer vineyards first started in the Visayas and Mindanao region. Due to disease epidemics and poor output, these enterprises later on were ceased.
During 1972, Mr. Avelino A. Lomboy started planting his first 20 cuttings on his backyard. After years of various research and trial and error, the vines bore fruit and today most of the grapes are produced in La Union. (Lomboy Farms, 2015)
A Sweet Side Trip
After a few hours of long drive from Manila, I suddenly remembered that there were grape farms in La Union in which I saw all over social media. With the help of navigational apps, we made a side trip in Bauang, La Union before heading to Flotsam and Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel.
Upon arriving in the location along Manila National Road, there were plenty of guides waiting for guests and visitors. One young guide, tall with sun-kissed skin and a calm Ilocano feature, approached and helped us along the way. He presented us to the Gapuz Grapes Farm, one of the other main farms in La Union.
After walking a few meters, we were greeted with hundred rows of vineyards in attractive green. As picturesque and sweet as it may seem, the highlights are found in its fruit – the charming ripe, sun-drenched, luscious grapes.
There were farmers tending the place when we visited and their greetings were as warm as the summer sun. They gave us few pieces of their produce and the taste were tangy and sweet.
La Union grape farm season happens during the months of March to May. Even though it was not on-season when we visited the farm, the grapes were still desirable and truly delicious.
Aside from the free photo ops which we really enjoyed, the farmers also offered their exclusive grape and guyabano wine all produced in the farm. The grape wine was red in color and the taste was surprisingly fruity and sweet. The guyabano wine on the other hand had a potent piquant flavor in sweetish white color.
In exchange to the farmer’s congenial nature, we bought a couple bottles of their wine as pasalubong to our love ones in the metro. The small ones cost around ₱100 ($2.00) while the bigger bottles cost ₱200 ($4.00).
Visiting the grape farms of La Union was really worth it. If ever I’ll travel up north again, I will surely buy more produce for my family and friends as pasalubong. With years of patience and arduous research and experimentation, history were made from a small piece of cuttings. A big salute to Mr. Lomboy for cultivating grapes in the country. Like what the saying goes, big things come from small beginnings.
La Union Grapes Farm
There are a number of grape farms found in Bauang, La Union and their location were pretty close to each other. Of all the farms available, we visited the Gapuz Grapes Farm.
How to go to Bauang, La Union from Manila?
Visiting the grapes farm of La Union from Manila is easy, here’s how: If you’re traveling with a private vehicle, then use the free navigational apps like Waze or Google Maps. Upon arrival in the location, there are guides waiting on the side of the Manila National Road. Ask assistance and they will surely help you.
If you’re going to commute from Manila, the best option is to take a bus ride from Partas in Cubao, Quezon City going to San Fernando, La Union. Bus fare costs ₱436 (one-way, updated September 2017). Upon arrival in the bus station in San Fernando, take a jeep southward going to Bauang, La Union and tell the driver that you will alight in the grape farms. Jeepney fare costs ₱11.
On the other hand, you can also inform the bus driver that you will alight in the grape farms.
How much is the guide fee?
When we were escorted by our guide to the farm, I asked him for the guide fee. He just replied that he accepts any amount that we will give. In the end, we gave him ₱200 because of his sincere honesty and kindness.
Are there any entrance fee in the farm?
There are no entrance fee in Gapuz Grapes Farm. Once you visit this place, you will surely buy a bunch of grapes and bottles of wine. This farm is open everyday from 0700H – 1800H.
- Lomboy Farms (2015, June 1) ‘Grape King’ says agriculture can help economy take off. Retrieved from: http://lomboyfarms.com/news/grape-king-says-agriculture-can-help-economy-take-off/
- Spot PH (2014, May 16) Weekend Escape: The Grape Farms of La Union [Blog post]. Retrieved from: http://www.spot.ph/things-to-do/56380/weekend-escape-the-grape-farms-of-la-union
Special Thanks to:
- Paolo Sicat, my handsome best friend haha, for sharing his photographs in this travel article. Visit his Instagram account at instagram.com/paolosicat