A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Posted 10:47 AM by Luigi
Making wine in the South Pacific
From The Indipendent.
Published: 08 April 2007
Remote Rangiroa in French Polynesia is the second biggest atoll in the world. About 40 miles long, it lies 180 miles from Tahiti and is one of 77 atolls in the distant Tuamotu archipelago, fragments of land that are scattered like confetti on an ocean of ink.
Until a century ago Rangiroa was principally a hideout for pirates and landfall for cyclones. Today it is one of the world's most unusual producers of wine.
To reach the vineyard there I was told to bring my bathing suit and snorkel gear and get down to the atoll's only dock. Fisher, the boatman, said that on the way across the lagoon we might see small sharks, leopard rays and turtles and that I might want to swim with them.
The journey takes about 15 minutes by high-speed motor launch, skidding across the turquoise surf inside the reef. You land at what looks like a Hollywood director's dream of a Robinson Crusoe island with powdery coral beach and palm trees waving beneath a cloudless sky.
In one area there are banyan trees right down to the water's edge, so you don't see the vineyard from the shore. But after a few paces, there in front of you, neatly fenced in by a boundary of coconut trees and wild gardenia bushes, is the most perfect, dinky little vineyard.
When I was there the neat rows of rich green vines were heavy with deliciously fat and juicy white and red grapes. Fisher took his machete and cut a bunch of each for me to taste.
It is unlikely that the Rangiroa vineyard will worry the producers in the Loire and Burgundy unduly. The family of the widow Clicquot has little to fear. Even so, last year this vineyard produced 50,000 bottles of Vin de Tahiti. At about £12 a bottle, some of them are making their way to the tables of restaurants in France.
Apart from coconuts Rangiroa's main produce was black pearls before Dominique Auroy, a rich French wine enthusiast, arrived. Given that Polynesia imports four million bottles of wine a year, he thought he'd make his own.
He tried a few of the other Polynesian islands first, and settled on Rangiroa because it has an unbelievable sunshine record and yet rainfall as heavy as England's. The poor limestone soil made up of coral debris was a problem but he shipped in 200 tons of earth from Tahiti and then the vines from France and Italy: Carignan from the south of France, a red grape, Muscat de Hambourg, and an Italian vine for sweet white wine.
Then he hired Sébastien Thépénier, one of France's leading oenologists, as his storemaster and winemaker. I met Sébastien at the air-conditioned cave where he was inspecting the progress of the latest harvest, the wine maturing well in giant metal barrels. Sébastien offered me a glass of the rosé. It was delicious: refreshing but with a slightly woody, chalky aftertaste. When I told him this he took a stone and banged it against the wall and then asked me to run my tongue against it. It had a similar taste. It was, I realised, the taste of coral, the taste of the island.
Sébastien explained that in the tropics there is no winter as in Europe. Temperatures rarely fall below 18C and the weather in the so-called winter season is characterised by a strong southerly wind, the maramu, which cools the lower air levels. "Vines," he said "originate in areas where their growth cycle is controlled by the seasons, allowing them to rest before giving us their fruit. The challenge here was to trick the vines into believing there was a European-type winter in these latitudes. To achieve this we control the growth cycle through pruning. The vines now produce two harvests every year, instead of one."
At harvest time the grapes are taken to the village of Avatoru by boat where they are crushed. At no other vineyard in the world do the grapes have to be transported by canoe. I rather liked the publicity pictures Sebastien showed me for Vin de Tahiti. They feature muscular islanders, stripped to the waist in colourful sarong-like skirts. Garlanded with crowns of tiare, gardenia-like flowers, and wearing necklaces of pink frangipani, they heave boxes of black grapes into their canoes. A trifle camp, perhaps, but wonderfully, eccentrically exotic.
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