Wine in Bali: Local Grapes and Accessible Imports
With an exorbitant tax of about 200% added to each imported bottle of wine, Bali isn’t often known as an international hot spot for buying diverse varietals. However, this has inspired Balinese wine makers to experiment with combining grapes grown on the north coast of the island with imported Australian grapes to produce wines locally. This has led to more accessible and affordable wines for people living on the island.
Upon visiting restaurants, it will become apparent the leading local labels available are Hatten, Plaga, and Sababay Wines. Hatten Winery is truly Balinese, owned and operated by a Balinese family and actively aiming to support local projects and people. Wines with a Hatten label are produced from grapes grown on the North Coast of Bali, while their sister label, Two Islands, uses grapes imported from Southern Australia. While the Two Islands varietal is much tastier in the classic sense (try the Shiraz Reserve), it is admirable of Hatten to produce a solely local varietal as well. Because grapes grown in typical wine regions, like Australia, Chile, France, and California, are harvested only once a year, their quality is much higher than those grown in Bali which can be harvested up to three times per year.
The Argentinian winemaker of Plaga Wines uses a combination of grapes from Chile and Australia in his production located here in Bali. They offer a range of varietals, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rose, and several red options of which the shining star is the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sababay Winery, named after Saba Bay on the southeastern coast of Bali, also proudly boasts 100% Indonesian wine grown and produced by local Balinese grape farmers. Like Hatten Wines, their vineyards are located on the northern coast where the volcanic soil can infuse depth of flavor into the grapes. Guided tours are available at their winery in Gianyar where they lead guests through their sustainable wine making process.
While there are several wine shops around Bali, VIN+ in Seminyak and Winehouse in Kerobokan have the additional incentive of offering happy hour wine deals and an enticing menu of tasty food pairings. VIN+ offers ‘all you can drink’ wine by the glass from 5-8pm for 300k, while Winehouse offers half of wines by the glass on Fridays 5-7pm.
For those interested in enjoying the more classic taste of a European wine with their dinner, Leroy’s Vietnamese restaurant in Canggu serves a delicious Sangiovese that pairs well with their spicy pho soup. Also in Canggu, The Slow has an extensive wine list that matches the quality of their contemporary small plates.
With a growing number of local, sustainable wineries, restaurants around Bali are more and more able to offer guests affordable wines by the glass. With this being said, true foodies should splurge a bit for the imported options when looking deep flavors that can stand up to the bold Indonesian spices often featured on local menus.
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