Advocacy for locally produced wines

Connoisseurs and players in the distribution market are invited to give locally produced wines a chance.

Barbados Trust Loan Fund (BTLF) Wines and Spirits cluster sector consultant, Oneka John, believes this is really what the growing local industry needs most right now. His comments were on the sidelines of the first in a series of pop-ups for the Fund’s Ace Business to Business (B2B) program, at Shopsmart, Holders Hill, St. James, on Saturday,

Talk to Barbados TODAYJohn noted that once this support was given, she was sure wine specialists would realize that fruit wines produced in Barbados could compete with many American and French brands that are currently flooding the market, as their level was just as good, if not higher.

“There are excellent locally made wines that match this taste profile. So if this is the opportunity for people to actually taste them, when they do they will love them because it is in the range of what they like… It is about giving locally produced wines a chance. because they are very well made and they are made with a lot of love and determination and want to put forward a very good product in the local market. Our quality is of a high standard, our presentation is of a high standard and we truly believe that locals will appreciate it as well as tourists. I don’t think there are too many places to come and have a banana wine or a jamoon wine and [other wines that] really represent what it is to be in Barbados, ”she said.

Regarding the representation of locally made products, John said one of the cluster’s goals is to get some of the products on restaurant cocktail menus and also available in the tourist belt. John hopes this will be achieved soon, but noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge as it has slowed the process down.

During Saturday’s pop-up, there was a tasting session of a range of wines from family-owned Valeria Vintage Wines. It was revealed that Shopsmart Inc. has agreed to be the first local retailer to give the brand storage space at their main outlet in Holder’s Hill.

Valeria manager Eunice Elliss-Barker was proud of the achievement, expressing her gratitude to the BTLF who she says has improved their product in many ways since her arrival.

“Valeria was really a family business where we just did it as a hobby. I took it over in 2017 to start marketing and distributing it. I started pop-up shops in businesses – credit unions, etc. So it started to make a name for itself and then I approached the Barbados Trust Loan for the financing of some equipment relating to the business. This has played a very important role in our progress in our daily activities. Change labels and stock up on different bottles; polish it up and make it more international… Also financially, marketing, accounting – all aspects of a business that they’ve been able to put their expertise to use, ”said Ellis-Barker.

Valeria, which dates back to 1895, currently offers seven flavors of wine: jamoon, tamarind, donks, currant, banana, rice and the latest, bay leaf, which was introduced last year. Ellis-Barker said their next goal is to tackle the export market. (KC)

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