Bali is known for a lot of things, but for wine? Not so much. Almost every other wine in the world is made at colder latitudes, but Sababay Winery is taking on the challenge of producing wine at the equator. Balinese farmers tend to the vineyards on Bali’s northern coast, creating a local wine with international standards.
The current price of Sababay’s winery tour and tasting (“Tour & Taste”) is Rp. 180,000 per person. You book in advance, but payment is at the end of the visit.
There is a small room to the right of the entrance foyer. The awards that Sababay Winery has received over the years decorate the walls. The tour experience starts here with a short five-minute video of an overview of the winery. There are only a few seats, so some guests will have to stand depending on the tour’s size that day.
The Sababay Winery tour is different in that there are no vineyards to explore. All of the grapes in Sababay wines are grown elsewhere on the island or imported. There’s no cellar either, so I don’t know where the wines are stored. The guide takes you to the fermenting vats and the various machines used in wine-making. The entire tour takes only 15 minutes before you get to the first wine tasting.
Sparkling Wine Tasting
Upstairs, there is a restaurant or some sort of function room. We got our first wine sample, a glass of Sababay’s Ascaro Brut. This was a lightly sweet and bubbly wine. There’s a catwalk that overlooks the fermenting tanks through the doors on the left side of the room. Our tour guide offered to take pictures for everyone in our group. We had about ten to fifteen minutes to finish our first wine sample before we moved on.
Wine Tasting at the Tropical Garden
The proper wine tasting happens at Sababay’s tropical garden. This outdoor space has a lot of shade from the trees but no complete cover. I’m not sure what happens if it’s pouring rain. Unlike other wine tours where the whole tour group congregates around the sampling table, at Sababay Winery, each group gets their own private table and service.
There is a hidden toilet in the nearby wine shop. Ask the staff if it’s not obvious because the washroom is behind a moveable wall.
Red & White Wine Tasting
The first sample was the white wine from Sababay’s Reserve series. Sababay Reserve White is a mix of Chardonnay and Muscat Saint Vallier grapes with a 13% alcohol content. The staff also brought some fried Ubi Kayu (or cassava) and salsa to every table, which was a nice touch. It was a simple but welcome snack and probably complements the taste of Sababay’s wines.
When our white wine was almost finished, the server came by and poured us our sample of red wine. Sababay Reserve Red is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Alphonse Laphalle grapes at 13.5% alcohol content.
Free Bonus Wine Sample
There was a QR code on the table. The server told us that if we rated the winery on Google, we could sample one additional wine or spirit from their list. We scanned the code but didn’t actually rate them. Nobody checked and we got our extra wine anyway. Mark tried the Mascetti, a sweet dark port. It was nice, but not any better than other port wines to justify the price. I tried SABA, the infused vodka with spicy undertones. I was not impressed with how it tasted neat, and I couldn’t figure out what mixer would taste best with this.
The Sababay Wine Shop
After the wine sampling, it’s time to pay for the winery tour or check out the wine shop. We browsed the shop, so we paid for our tour there. All of Sababay’s wines, including those not offered as tastings, are in the shop for purchase.
I’m no wine connoisseur, but none of the wines we sampled was anything to write home about. They honestly weren’t worth the hassle of transporting them home. Muscat Saint Vallier and Alphonse Laphalle grapes are table grapes, not meant for wine. The more expensive “Reserve” series must be mixed with European wine grapes to make the end product palatable. I think the big gimmick about Sababay wines is the novelty of wine produced in a tropical climate like Bali. It makes a unique gift for any wine lover. Personally, I can get better wines for cheaper and easier back home.
Opening Hours: Open daily from 9:30am – 5:30pm
Tour Times: 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm & 3pm