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Agung Bagus Pratiksa Linggih: Promoting Indonesian Wines

The owner of Isola Wine by Cantine Balita, Agung Bagus Pratiksa Linggih, admits there are many challenges in building a wine business in Indonesia but none of them stops him.

Interview by Yani Lauwoie

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Starting the first boutique winery focused on producing internationalstandard wines in his homeland Bali in 2012, Bagus was fully aware it wouldn’t be an easy ride. Bad-quality grapes because of the humid environment and tropical climate, as well as the lack of grape varieties, meant there was little confidence in local wines.

“Wines are also widely known to be produced in subtropical countries, and you tend not to associate Indonesiawith wines. So, selling Indonesian wines can be a bit tricky,” Bagus says.

The alumnus of Alliance Manchester Business School (University of Manchester) realised that the quality of the grapes was his number one priority to change the negative paradigm. So, he experimented in viticulture, which turned out to be a wise decision.

“We combine Italian viticulture knowledge with Balinese agriculture traditions to produce the best quality grapes in the tropical climate of Bali. Our viticulturist worked closely with the farmers and found the solution to high-quality grapes in Bali,” Bagus explains.

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Another technique that he is using is creating an artificial winter during the rainy season. “While we can harvest up to three times a year, we only do it twice because during the rainy season the quality of the grapes is low. What we do during the rainy season is prune the plants, so they don’t produce flowers. By doing so, the nutrients are stored inside the plants and it will produce better grapes and a better harvest,” Bagus says.

The farming technique complements the grape varieties, which Bagus imported from south Italy. He planted the vineyard in Buleleng Regency, north-west Bali, where the land is mineral-rich and fertile, giving the wines produced by Isola Wine a unique flavour.

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Isola Wine has since gained a trusted reputation among its many clients, including premium hotels and resorts such as Alila, Bvlgari and Potato Head Beach Club. The wines are available not only in Bali but also in other parts of Indonesia, including Jakarta, Bandung and Flores.

Isola Wine produces 100,000 bottles per year of red, rosé and white wine.“My favourite would be the rosé – it is a full-bodied and complex rosé. It also has a nice smell and colour,” Bagus says, adding that the wine is made from a blend of black Malvasia Nera and Alphonse Lavallée grapes.

Bagus is confident that he will take Isola Wine to the next level, considering he has already received offers from China and Singapore, but his main focus at the moment is local markets.

As a businessman, Bagus often flies with Garuda Indonesia. “The in-flight meal is always tasty, and they even serve nasi padang on the plane. Aside from the delicious food, I like the friendliness of the cabin crew,” Bagus says.