Wine investment of 25mK – Post Courier

BY PATRICK TOM

A local brewery is investing K25 million in growing and developing the production of grapes that will be made into wine in the country by 2023.

The 20 hectares of vineyards in the district of Wau Bulolo in the province of Morobe belong to Vitis Industries Limited.

In an exclusive interview with this newspaper, Vsevolod Budnikov, agricultural operations and production manager for Vitis Grape, said the vineyard would expand from the current 20 hectares.

“We will produce not only wine, but also raisins and grape juice,” he said.

“We are currently building a cellar and then we will have to build cellars, because the wine must be aged in barrels for several years. This process is not fast and very expensive, but we will do it.

Mr Budnikov said a total of K100,000 was paid to the workers at the vineyard every month for two years.

“We bought grape plants, materials for the factory, the factory, contractors for the construction of the factory and much more. I think the costs are over K25,000,000,” he said.

“I think in May we will start harvesting and producing wine. The factory will be ready in May and this year we will start producing ordinary wine. And after two sustained years.

Currently, 560 workers work at the farm in Wau, Morobe province.

Vitis Industries owner and founder Sergeu Mosin said he has grapes from the United States (Concord), Australia (Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet), Italy (Prosecco), Georgia (Rkatsiteli, Saperavi) and from Ukraine (Lidia, Isabella, Muscat).

“The planned initial production capacity is 150,000 bottles per year.

“This grape wine is produced primarily for the local market which is much larger than our projected 150,000 bottles, but it will reduce PNG’s dependence on grape wine imports from overseas, primarily Australia. Not need to spend foreign currency.

“All operations are based on PNG Kina, only packaging materials (bottles, lids, labels) will be sourced from China,” he said.

“This grape wine project in Wau will be developed to reach the production capacity of two (2 million) bottles per year, at this stage, a certain amount of our grape wines made in PNG will be exported and foreign exchange will bring to PNG.”

The company has already set up the nursery for the grape plants in Wau which they want to use to establish other grape plantations and wineries in PNG.

“Our next grape plantation will be established in Rigo, in the central province.

“We plan to have plantings of 200g grapes, mainly Georgian and Australian grapes, as well as a winery with a production capacity of 1 million bottles per year,” Mosin said.

He said this proposed winery in Rigo will have distillation sections to distill wines into the natural brandy that will mature in oak barrels for a period of three to 10 years.

Brandy which is also made from grapes is another exportable product as a very limited number of countries produce natural brandy (cognac) such as France, Armenia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Greece and China.

“In Wau, some grapes will be sun-dried to produce sultans and raisins mainly for export.

“We already have around 100 people in Wau who are employed in our grape plantations after the completion of this wine project, we plan to employ around 300 people in Wau and 200 in Rigo,” he said.

Mr. Mosin added that if they have real government support, we could establish at least 50 vineyards and wineries around PNG, in most parts of PNG.

“The climate allows for the cultivation of grapes, we can always select the grape varieties that best suit the climatic conditions of the various provinces of PNG, of which these 50 wineries can employ 10,000 people and generate $300 million in foreign exchange revenue.”

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