Back in 2009, when she and her mother got lost in vast vineyard of ripe grape somewhere in Buleleng region in Bali, Evy Gozali, the CEO of PT Sababay Industry, had no idea that wine would become her utmost passion. Now, her company is one of the most well-known local wine companies in Indonesia, and everything she does, revolves around the sweet fruit.
⇒ Grape Charm
Empowering the farmers has always been in the DNA of Mulyati Gozali, who dedicated many years during her previous career to support empowerment of farmers. Following her retirement, Ibu Mulyati Gozali wanted to continue her commitment to help farmers improve their competitiveness and welfare. During her trip to Bali, she and Evy were concerned over the economic gap between areas popular as tourism center in Bali and areas that rely on agricultural businesses. Ibu Mulyati and Evy were very concern to see how grape farmers unable to obtain more than IDR500 for a kilogram of their harvests. After analyzing and assessing conditions in that area, Ibu Mulyati concluded that Bali has a good potential in grape production and processing business. Considering the high number of tourists visiting Bali, coupled with the tourism potential and high wine consumption in this region, Ibu Mulyati believed grape farming in Bali has a very significant added value.
Having noticed that most of the tourists in Bali drink wine and quickly realized that it is also the most added value for grape production, far better than producting juice, Evy finally decided to take part in the grape business. They also have an added mission to enhance the life quality of grapefarmers in Bali, to introduce local potential and to penetrate domestic wine market.
“Seriously, I have no background of wine or not even a connoiseur. I drink wine for celebration, a wedding party or new year. I am an ordinary woman, not a foodie, but loves food and can easily get satisfied consuming gado-gado and a cup of coffee. Graduated with master from a Financial Engineering institution, I am supposed to work in somewhere like Wall Street,” she commented.
Following the idea, she then managed a socio-agriculture research with a team from ITB, while her mother handling business permits and searching a winemaker. By the end of 2010, they set up a particular grape seed for wine production, and in two years, their business is fully completed in all aspect and production started in Bali.
As her mother’s only child who lives in Indonesia, she oversees every process of the Sababay winery.
“This is a big learning curve. What I have learned about wine is, in fact, that local wine is suitable for local culinary. It’s an advantage. We can maximize local potentials,” she said.
Evy describes Sababay’s wines as fresh, bold, adventurous, vibrant yet classy. It wants to target beginner wine drinkers, giving a more comfortable taste to them. Local production also means much smaller distribution costs, resulting in wines that are affordable and always available.
Evy’s distinguished contribution has won the wine 19 awards in one and a half years. The first was the silver medal in the Singapore Wine Award. Last year, Sababay achieved silver medal in the Austria Wine Challenge 2015, competing with 11,000 brands from 40 countries. Moreover, Sababay’s Moscato wine, derived from local Kediri Kuning grape that is also known as Muscat Saint-Vallier grape, is on display at the Wine Museum in Bordeaux, France. Now, they are testing more imported grapes for new flavors.
“When I was younger I was blinded by imported products, but these local wine industry has opened my eyes for local potentials,” she confessed.
The company supplies a direct market to the farmers, handling managerial aspect and educate farmers to become professional wine-activists. The mutual partnership between her company and the farmers have improved the farmers’ life quality. Many of the farmers are now able to enroll their children to university. Yet she modestly claimed that her business is only the initial attraction to lure other businesses to grow Buleleng region.
Responding to the local wine competition, she believes in positioning themselves as partners rather than competitors, since every local wine has its own characters. Domestically, local wine penetration is still under 2%, which she thinks makes collaboration essential to dominate domestic wine market. In Asia, her brand competes with wine brands from Thailand, China and India. The plan is to win Indonesia’s market share in 5-6 years, before reaching Asia’s market and ultimately, the world market.
⇒ Future Winery
Sababay is the spearhead project of Evy and her mother in grooming local agriculture, maximizing local potentials, creating impressive local product, and being one of the leading enterprises in Indonesia and overseas. “With the ever growing tourism industry, fertile soil, paired with hardworking and disciplined people, Bali agriculture is very potential in the future.” Evy said.
In the future, she and her mother plan to construct a Sababay holding company to manage several grape-based subsidiaries such as winery, resort and education, by establishing a wine school to initiate more local professionals in the wine industry. Related to that, she recently had a contract for executing wine course in several Tourism School and Academy. Evy also shared her plans to expand to the pharmacy sector utilizing grape waste for beauty cosmetics.
“What I dream for our wine business is for it to become an integrated grape-valley as an integrated compound of agriculture, wine production, wine tourism and wine education. I call it a Sababay wine experience, where you can stay to harvest grape, enjoy holiday with wine ambience in Sababay style. It’s still a long way to go though.” she concluded.
Photo by: Kiki Y. Basuki