By Maya M. Padillo
DAVAO CITY — Durian — the funky-smelling, strong-tasting fruit that people either love or hate — has been developed into many processed forms, including sweets, ice cream, and flavored coffee.
But one man from Davao City is on a mission to bring southeast Asia’s “king of fruits” on the table in a different form — as a bottle of “premium wine.”
Arnold B. Llanes, who started experimenting with durian wine two years ago, said he is now seriously looking at setting up a winery in Davao City.
Mr. Llanes has been doing his fermentation in a shared facility in Kabacan, Cotabato owned by his brother, which is accredited by the Food and Drug Authority.
“When we started two years ago, it was in experimental stage. My durian wine underwent one year fermentation. We use all varieties of durian… what is also important is that the durian is ripe,” Mr. Llanes said in an interview.
He estimates that a winery would cost about P500,000, which his business partners, mostly relatives, are ready to fund.
Mr. Llanes said he is now on the lookout for a location and hopes to get help from the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) for the equipment.
The entrepreneur said that he is also banking on a continued abundant supply of the fruit from farmers to sustain production.
“We saw that every durian season, there is a lot of supply. And because some are sold so cheap (as low as P20 per kilo), we readily throw them away,” he said.
One kilo of durian can produce one 750-milliliter bottle of wine, which sells at the Abreeza Mall for P480 each.
He said people describe the white wine, which has a 15-16% alcohol content, as “smells like durian and tastes like wine.”
He said the durian smell, not just the taste, actually disappears in the fermentation process.
“It’s converted into alcohol… there really is no taste of durian,” he said.
Mr. Llanes said with the winery, he aims to expand his market and eventually export the product.
“Wine has a broad market and the plus factor is, it is durian wine. This is unique and this is the first durian wine in Mindanao.”