Wild grapes have been around in Cambodian forests since time immemorial. The annual climbing plant, which starts flowering mid-May and bears fruit between August and December, is in many areas still so abundant that people cannot make good use of it. The grapes begin to decay soon after they are ripe.
Nou Virak, a former soldier from Kro Kor district, Pursat province, had by chance, the opportunity to learn about wine-making in Thailand.
Back in his home province, he applied his new knowledge and, together with other villagers, he engaged in producing wine from wild grapes on a commercial scale. The villagers collect the wild grapes (local name: Tompeng Baychhou Prey) in the nearby forest, which is part of the Cardamom Mountains.
Apparently wild-grape wine is a unique product, at least for Cambodia.
In a meeting, Virak suggested that it would also be possible to make this kind of wine in other regions.
The Cambodian Organic Agriculture Association (COrAA) staffers Mao Mithona and Chhim Phally shared this idea with organic rice farmers in Preah Vihear province. The farmers reported that wild grapes were also abundant in the forest near their villages. Consequently, COrAA connected them to Virak’s association.
The Pursat Wild Grape Association was soon able to find a partner to finance the expansion of wine-making to Preah Vihear province.
COrAA supports this initiative, as wine-making offers villagers an additional source of income without the need to expand agricultural land.
Instead, it will help them to actively preserve the forests in their areas.