The Ultimate Guide to Savoring Exquisite ‘Bugnay’ Wine in Remote Hideaways

The author’s choice is “bugnay.” The food scene in the Philippines is vibrant and flourishing. Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to explore many local destinations. And one thing we definitely have an abundance of is a diverse range of cuisines, dining options, and food destinations, even in remote areas.

Located in Adams, Ilocos Norte, a three-hour drive from Laoag airport, is Inuwayan Farms. Although the journey was long, the breathtaking views of the sea, forest, and rivers made it enjoyable. As we ventured further along the winding road towards the mountaintop, we eventually spotted a modest sign that read “Inuwayan Farms.” Finally, we had arrived at our destination.

Coming to a stop, we were greeted by a small hut with a wooden door that opened up to reveal a wine cellar. It was a magical sight because one would never expect to find such a hidden gem in the middle of nowhere. All the fatigue from our early morning flight and long road trip suddenly seemed worth it.

Bugnay, a native wild berry, is abundant in Adams. Inuwayan transforms this fruit into delicious wine. The pathways leading to the entertainment area at Inuwayan Farms are lined with bugnay trees, creating a stunning visual display. The clusters of bugnay come in various shades and levels of ripeness, ranging from white, pink, and fuchsia to vibrant red, maroon, and dark purple.

As we strolled through the bugnay-lined pathway, we were warmly welcomed by Dr. Bielmaju Waley-Bawingan, the owner of Inuwayan Winery, Nursery, and Farms. A beautifully set long table awaited us, filled with a healthy spread. The dishes mostly consisted of freshly picked vegetables, grains, and produce. The salad was made from a variety of talbos and other leafy greens, lightly blanched and enhanced with slivers of pink torch ginger for added color and a mild fresh zing of ginger.

The salad was dressed with their impeccably made Inuwayan Bugnay Balsamic Vinegar. This vinegar was exceptional—sweet, fruity, wine-like, with character. It had a light and fresh taste on the palate with a pleasant tartness. Doctora mentioned that the bugnay “balsamic” was originally an experiment that turned out to be a success.

On the table, we also had red rice, scrambled eggs, and more freshly harvested leafy greens. We indulged in Adam’s longganisa and my personal favorite, tukak (super tasty fried frog’s legs)—a delightful addition to the predominantly green and healthy meal. To quench our thirst, we enjoyed ice-cold bugnay juice.

Inuwayan Farms is much more than just a vineyard. It is Doctora’s passion project—a haven where everything she plants thrives. Besides bugnay, the farm boasts a collection of exotic fruits that I never expected to find there. They grow organically cultivated lychees, durian, marang, and many more. Inuwayan envisions turning Adams into the fruit bowl of Ilocos Norte. They also grow a significant amount of cacao, which they turn into vinegar, tablea, and even chocolate bars infused with spices and aromatics. During my visit, I sampled various chocolate bars and different renditions of tablea. My favorite was the easy-melt tablea on a popsicle stick. It had a taste reminiscent of Magnolia Chocolait and Chocovim (the chocolate drinks of my youth), but with a deep, almost wine-like essence of tablea. It was easy and fun to use—a simple mix in a cup of piping hot milk, and it was ready to drink.

Inuwayan primarily operates as a wine cellar where wine tastings are conducted. It was a thrilling experience to sit, sip, and savor the different types of bugnay wines available. Depending on the time of year and the fruits in season, visitors can also enjoy an eat-all-you-can fruit picking adventure. Doctora even demonstrated how she roasts cacao and shared her various chocolate creations. A visit to Inuwayan Farms is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that makes you appreciate the charm and richness of the Philippines.

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