Off The Beaten Path: Tahiti

Suffice to say, if the French are there, so is wine.

One of the strangest places to find grape wine, where it actually is made from that location, is Tahiti.

The French Polynesian island produces a very, very, very small amount of wine, but it produces it nonetheless.  Under one label, from one visionary French winemaker.

“Vin de Tahiti” is an extreme exposé of how far one will go to show terroir.  Domaine Dominique Auroy is located on the remote island of Atoll Rangiroa.  In looking for information on plantings, the only definitive growth we could confirm is of Muscat Hamburg (the Vin de Tahiti website is full of Lorem Ipsum – so direct information is still very limited), but it appears there are red grapes of an undisclosed varietal planted and produced as a red wine and a Rosé.

From what we have come to understand, ancient coral soils are turned in with local seaweed and other vegetation to fully encompass the facets the island has to offer to the terroir of the wines.  The thick, natural, local foliage protects the vines from the salty oceanic atmosphere (which would otherwise burn the grapes and leaves), and harvest is twice a year in summer and winter as the vines would never reach dormancy due to warmer weather patterns.  In the region, up to 12 hours of daylight can potentially beat down on the vines, so the thick, natural foliage also assist in protecting the grapes from being over exposed to the sun.

Pruning and water management assist the vines with not over fruiting and simulating winter conditions for the vines, where no winter conditions exist.  Certain vine training techniques are still being experimented with to see which best suits the vine’s health and production, none has been settled on as of yet.

In addition to winemaking, Tahitians are making fruit wine and brewing beer too.