Our wine brand Basi del Diablo started hiding a few bottles of wine on January 31, 2019. The wine hunt will take place in random spots in the country and a few choice places abroad for the rest of the year. What makes this more exciting, according to the team, is “it’s not an event per se, just a random wine hunt done by strangers in random places on random days”. Clues will be given through Sigrid Salucop’s Instagram account and “sometimes” on Basi del Diablo’s official page.
Wine No.1 has already been found. It was hidden at Virginia Mangapit’s home in Batac, Ilocos Norte. The first wine bottle is a Virginia Blush, a Basi del Diablo variant named after Mrs Mangapit. “It is logical for the first wine to be hidden in this old house, this is where I have lived most of my adult life and it has a special place in the hearts of my granddaughters,” Mrs. Mangapit said. Her eldest granddaughter Sigrid is running the company and also manages the wine brand.
“We have been analysing our market share in the Philippine wine industry. Despite the hundreds of wine brands produced in the country, the local wine sector has not yet truly taken off in the sense that Filipinos themselves choose local wines over the ones coming from abroad,” Salucop says.
It is no secret that the country’s wine producers are in a difficult spot and quality suffers because there is no continuity.
“There are many factors that have made the local wine industry into what it is today and as a brand, we’d like to be a reminder as to why they still produce wines that were made by their great-grandparents. Local winemakers are connected to that tradition. So apart from making money out of our own wines, we’d like Filipinos to appreciate other local brands, too,” she explains.
Salucop finished writing her first academic book in 2018, a detailed and emotional story about the Basi industry. The industry was said to be dying over 50 years ago but local winemakers still make the heritage wine. Salucop co-wrote the book with Dr Arturo G. Pacho, a former professor at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Poetry in a Bottle is poised to hit bookstores both online and offline later this year.
“We know the industry well but we do not claim to know it all. However, based on what we have found, we decided it is time to do something different to promote our wines. I have always said that there will be a tough road ahead and now we are crawling on it. Like many winemakers in the country, we have no money to push our wines to the mainstream. This is why I thought of the scavenger hunt because it opens doors for interaction and it helps us introduce our wines to locals and foreigners alike,” she adds.
The second bottle, a De La Bodega, is hidden at Kingfisher Kitesurfing Hotel in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, a town two hours away from Mrs Mangapit’s home. According to Basi del Diablo, no one has found the wine just yet. Wine No.3’s location has not yet been revealed but Salucop says that it is somewhere in Metro Manila.
To get more information about the wine hunt, check out Sigrid Salucop’s Instagram account.