WHEN he first ventured into wine production in 2000, Elbert Pigtain had no formal wine training. So the president of the Philippine Tropical Fruit Winery Corp. dedicated the first three years to research before formally setting up the company in 2003. But even as a newcomer, he has what it takes to develop excellent flavours. The first fruit wines he developed such as the duhat (Philippine plum, Syzygiumcumini) wine under the Mijiah brand, reaped awards and recognitions at shows including the Councours Mondial de Bruxelles, the AICHI Expo in Japan, and the ASEAN Food and Exchange Exhibit. The FoodPacific Manufacturing Journal caught up with Mr Pigtain in Manila.
It is almost ten years since you started your company. What have you achieved so far and what are your priorities?
The company now produces several fruit wines and we’re adding more. For the reds, we offer dragon fruit, strawberry, mangosteen, duhat, and bignay (Philippine berry, Antides mabunius). For the whites, we have mango, passion fruit, banana, pomelo, guava, marang, (Artocarpus odoratissimus), cashew, soursop and coconut.
Mango is our banner wine. We are developing wines made from a local cherry, as well as manzanita (also known as acerola, Malpighia glabra) whose taste can resemble apple wine. Our production has also improved. It used to take us about 10 months to clarify our wines, but now it takes just four months as we have adopted better technology.
Aside from growing the business, my priority is to develop the wine industry in the country, which is very new. In fact, I started in 2000, but I am considered a pioneer in the fruit wine category.
Why did you choose fruit wine?
Wines made from local fruits are rich in flavour and health benefits. The Philippines has the best tropical fruits because of the soil and temperature, and depending on where you source—in the north or the south of the Philippines—the taste would be slightly different. A mango sourced from Davao [in the main southern island of Mindanao] will taste different from one that came from Guimaras province [in Western Visayas]. The local wine busine