Drinking wine has been a way of life for time immemorial. People drink to celebrate different occasions, to have fun or to simply relax with family and friends. People in Palau are no exception and to cater to the taste of the locals, banker John De Vivo has come up with his own line of local wines, the Rock Island wines.
John said that his grandfather used to make wine for his personal consumption and when he came to Palau in the early 90’s, he decided to follow in his grandpa’s footsteps. He said that he served his homemade wine to friends who visit his house and got comments that it was good.
“I enjoy a glass of wine everyday. Wine drinking is not foreign to me but I do not drink to get drunk,” John said. “People who tasted it asked me why I was not selling it, so I was encouraged to do so,” he added. Wine making for John is a passion, a hobby which stemmed from his Italian heritage. He said wine making is a thing his family enjoys, serving as some kind of a special bond between them.
Patience and passion to make wine are two of the most important ingredients in wine making. It takes round six months from the time the wine is bottled until it lands in the stores, John said. The packaging is designed with a local touch that appeals not only to the tourists but also to Palau residents.
Rock Island wines are still locally sold and have not yet found its way to foreign markets because of there’s no way to transport the wine overseas. In 2003, John said he made hard alcohol, distilled, rhum, whisky, bourbon, gin, vodka, betel liquor, with a red color added betel nut but has peppermint flavor, all under the Rock Island label
He however said every drink should be in moderation. “Just enjoy the wine, do not get drunk”, John says. John’s best seller is Vino de Vivo, which literally means “the wine of life”. He said he also used the label Rock Island because it’s the best feature of Palau that draws in the most tourists.
“I would encourage the locals to drink the Rock Island wines. It’s good and it’s local,” he said. The next time you feel like celebrating, pick up a bottle of Rock Island wine from selected stores and duty free shops in the country.