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Monday, January 13, 2020

8 Things You Should Know for Your Pick and Pay Grapes Experience in La Union Grapes Farms

There's been a recent drive of tourism in Urayong, Bauang, La Union or "Elyu" for the Pick and Pay Grapes Farms in the area.  Before diving into your grape picking experience allow us Travel Tripsters to share the 8 Things You Should Know  before going there. 

lomboy farms
1. Lomboy Farms as the First DOT-accredited Grape Farm in the area

Lomboy Farms is the pioneer grape farm in the area.  It was established as a backyard project in 1972 by Avelino Lomboy from 20 grape cuttings brought from Cebu .  It is now managed by Gracia Lomboy, the daughter of its founder, who thought of opening the grape farm for tourism.  Contact: (72 ) 705-2105, (0939) 623 -5020

Lomboy Farms offers its services for a fee as follows:

1-10 100 php
11-30 80 php
31-50 70 php
51 and above or Viewing Fee
When not Picking Season  
50 php

According to the price guide it includes:
1. Entrance Fee for the Pick and Pay Experience
2. Optional Briefing
3. Tour Guide

Lomboy Farms having a frontage by the road-side made it easier for tourists (like us) to find the grape farms in the area. 

lomboy farms la union
It even has a demo area to give guests an overview of what a grape vineyard looks like.

However, we were expecting a guided tour that would orient as with grape as a fruit and grape farming (viticulture) but there was none.  The only thing we got for the fee is to convoy behind a motorcycle that led as to one of the many grape farms that has most grapes available for the pick and pay experience.

The advantage, although for a fee, with Lomboy Farms is that they will coordinate with other grape farms so you can have your pick and pay experience during your visit.  This can save you time asking around and looking for one as it is extremely hot during day time in the open fields.  In fact, it was so hot that some of our companions almost hesitated to come with us in the field.

2. Grape as a Fruit

So here's some interesting facts about grapes.
a. Grapes are classified as non-climateric fruits (don't ripen after harvest). 
b. They are also  botanically a berry because the entire pericarp (fruit wall) is fleshy. 
c. Grapes are packed with:
c.1.  vitamins such as B1, B6, C and K;
c.2. minerals such as calcium and phosporus and polyphenol;
c.3 anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, quercetin, anthocyanins, catechins, lutein, lycopene, phenolic acid, ellagic acid, reservatol and flavanoids

3. Grape Variants
There are two main kinds of grapes:
a. European or Californian grapes (Vitis Vinifera) - most common with at least 5,000 varieties
b. American or Concord grapes (Vitis Labrusca)

In Urayong, Bauang and Caba, La Union, the grape farms carry the Red Cardinal variant.
It originated in California as table grapes and mainly used for raisins but in Asia, it is also being used for wine-making.   They have thick and crunchy, skins and large seeds.

There are other variants available in other parts of the Philippines. 

4. Grape Products
grape products la union
Grapes can be eaten fresh as table grapes or they can be further processed into:
b. jam
c. juice
d. jelly
e. grape seed extract
f. raisins
g. vinegar
h. grape seed oil

la union wines
In Lomboy Farms, you can free taste or buy its Don Avelino wines which comes in 5 variants:
1. Guapple
2. Rosa Grape - a Red Cardinal Grape Wine
3. Moreno Cafe - Coffee flavored Wine
4. Pitaya Wine
5. Sandia Wine

ians mix and match wines
You can also buy other sweet wines during the farm visit.

guapple jam jelly
While Lomboy Farms offers jam and jelly, they were made from guapple and not grapes. 

5. La Union Grapes Farms

orpilla grape farm
Orpilla Grapes Farm
Since 1950's, grapes are grown in various areas in the Philippines including: Batangas, Bataan, Arevalo in Iloilo, Urayong, Bauang and Caba in La, Union and Sibongan in Cebu, Cebu City, General Santos City, South Cotabato,  Zamboanga and more.

La Union Grape Farms was pioneered by Lomboy Farms and has now expanded with various Grape Farms which includes:

  • Orpilla Grapes Farm - This is the farm that we were brought to by Lomboy Farm Staff for our pick and pay experience.  Contact Vangie Orpilla: (0909) 283-9679
  • Gapuz Grapes Farm - This began in the 80's with its  first cuttings from Lomboy Farm.  It uses organic fertilizers made out of seaweed.  It is the pioneer in the pick to pay idea back in 2010 (entrance is free and is always open from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm) and it also offers boodle fight.  The harvest season is announced in its Facebook Fan Page.  It can be found using google maps and waze.  It also supplies unrooted grape cuttings with a door to door delivery nationwide.  Contact: (0999) 714-7616, (0916) 418-6232, (0915) 778-44594
  •  Calica Grapes Farm - This began with 76 vines in 1984 by Virgilio Calica who is former farm help at Lomboy Farms.  It offers pick and pay and boodle fight.  Contact: (0907) 905-0303 (Smart) and (0905) 550-5046 (Globe)
  • Manguerra Grapes Farm - This is open for pick to pay with free tour guide (entrance is free and is always open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm).  It has a signage along Ilocos National Highway and can be found through waze.  Contact (as of January 13, 2020): (0977) 457-8737

  •  Uncle Dave's Grape Farm - This is open for pick to pay.  It also supplies unrooted grape cuttings with a door to door delivery nationwide.  Contact: (0906) 406-5257
  •  Mangaoang-Lacbao Grapes Farm - This is open for pick to pay. It also supplies unrooted grape cuttings with a door to door delivery nationwide.  Contact: (0930) 048-2276, (0910) 283-6513
gapuz grapes farm
  • Acosta Grapes Farms - This is owned by Danny Acosta.  You can harvest evenly veraisoned grapes here although they are covered in plastic while unpicked to protect them from rots (entrance is free and opening is announced on its Facebook Fan Page).  This is located in Palaod, Bagbag, Bauang , La Union. It also supplies unrooted grape cuttings with a door to door delivery nationwide.  Contact (as of January 13, 2020): (0946) 046-1787 (0919) 261-1166 . 

6. Grape Veraison (Grape Color from Green to Red)

The French term "véraison / veʀɛzɔ̃" is adopted in English use to connote the onset of ripening of grape berries.  The process takes an average of 10 to 14 days.  The trigger is still unknown.

la union grape farm
Veraison is very essential in Viticulure (grape-growing) and in wine-making.  In order to produce a silky and balance wine, the harvest must be composed of uniformly ripened grapes. 

la union grapes
The uneven veraisoned grapes look like this.  It can be eaten as table grapes which is probably why it is available for the pick and pay experience.

red cardinal grapes la union
This is a sample of evenly veraison batch which were collected by the Orpilla Farm staff. According to them, they have a continuing order for these as they are used for winemaking and other grape products.

7. Grape Harvesting
Some visit the grape farm of their choice and expect to have a guaranteed pick and pay experience.  Of course, the pick and pay experience is only available during harvesting season. 

Here in the Philippines the common harvest season for grapes are:
  • Summer: April to the end of May (May - best time)
  • July to August
  • December to January

8. Pick and Pay Experience (350 - 400 php/kilo)
pick and pay grape experience la union
My 160 php grape bunch
There is no time limit for the pick and pay experience.  You can spend your time selecting and picture-taking as much as you want.  You will be provided a basket to put your grapes in.   They will be weighted before you go out so you can pay and take them home. 

Lomboy Farms
Budget Per Person 50-500 php (see above) Lomboy Farms Map
Payment Options Cash

Operating Hours Monday to Sunday:
(even holidays)
7:00 am-4:00 pm
Reservation Required No
Contact  (672 ) 705-2105, (0939) 623 -5020

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