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Spirit for making wine


Shawn Cumberbatch

Spirit for making wine

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Owen Forde’s wheelchair is no obstacle to his business ambitions.
He has demonstrated that in his last 16 years of wine making from his home in Merricks, St Philip – to the point where anyone who is interested is buying his products and visitors to the island have access to the several varieties at a duty-free store at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
After starting out in 1998 using cherries, banana, and Jamoon to make wines when his mother brought a recipe home, the owner of Owen’s Wines has since expanded the range to the point where he approaches his task based on the philosophy that “once you can eat it you can make wine from it”.
So that in addition to “popular selling” wines made from mango, dunks, tamarind, coconut, ginseng, almond, and hibiscus flowers, Forde has also made the product from other foods including pumpkin, beets, carrots, cucumber, and cassava.
“I used to have other hobbies before but I got into winemaking and it just took off and went from there.
As it got a little better it started to develop. My sister took samples of the wine to her workplace and her workmates liked it so much that they requested more and that’s how things started,” he told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
“They said they will buy it and I said, ‘Well, if they will buy then I will start making it to sell so that is where it actually started from there then. I started buying pieces of equipment and books and I found one thing led to the next.”
Noting that ever since then there had been “pretty good response” to his wines, Forde’s being in a wheelchair was not a hindrance.
“I get around pretty good….Being in the wheelchair doesn’t stop me from doing what I want. If I need help there is always somebody around that would assist in whatever I can’t manage. Since I start doing this it has taken precedence over everything else now. This is what I do day in and day out,” he said.
Forde said winemaking took patience, as it took 16 months for the product to be “really ready” to be consumed.
“That is no problem for me because I understand what it takes.”
He also was willing to teach any interested individuals who wanted to learn how to make wine, saying all they would need was patience and the several pieces of equipment and raw materials he used.
These include a bottle corker, a filter, a heat gun to add seals to the bottle, hydrometer, thermometer, and ”normal household stuff like a strainer”.
Having “a good quality yeast” was also key, as “you need the yeast to cause the fermentation; otherwise it will be just drink”.

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