Wine Tourism in the Dominican Republic?

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Above: the inauguration ceremony

By the Caribbean Journal staff

While tropical climes are great for sitting on the beach and taking a swim, they’re traditionally not the friendliest environment to viticulture.

But a new tourism development in the Dominican Republic’s Azua region is looking to change that, relying in part on the cooler climate in the mountains of the country.

The Ocoa Bay project, a joint US-Dominican project, will be what its developers call the first wine-tourism development in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean region.

Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina was on hand to inaugurate the project, which has a total investment of $167 million, according to the government.

The project’s area will cover 1.4 million square metres in Bahia de Ocoa, with the first phase consisting of 140,000 square metres focused on a vineyard “capable of producing high-quality wine and table grapes,” the government said.

Dominican Republic Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia said the initiative was the beginning of a “series of major investments” in the country’s southern region.

Jean Alain Rodriguez, director of the Centre for Export and Investment, said a combination factors made the region “special and unique in the world.”

“It will be a project that will add a new element to our country-brand: Dominican wine, placing us on the world map of vineyards, showing that nobody does it better than Dominicans, when we do it well,” Rodriguez said.

The first phase will total $70 million, and what the government said would be around 600 jobs.

Gabriel Acevedo, president of Ocoa Bay, said the project would serve as a model for wine tourism, with a “harmonious combination of agriculture and tourism.”

The project will include a resort, clubhouse, residential villas, a health club, a winery, restaurants and other amenities.

It has been in development for several years.