Grapes, Picked by Hand

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 18 July 2016

PYIN OO LWIN, Mandalay Division — Nearly three years of investing time, money and labor has paid off for Thein Win, who now earns a profit from his vineyard in Pyin Oo Lwin Township.

Shwe Pyin Oo Lwin vineyard—owned by Shan State native Thein Win and situated on 5 acres of land in Shwe Thin village—opened last month to visitors.

A 45-minute drive from downtown Pyin Oo Lwin over a bumpy road delivers guests from the town to rows of grape-bearing vines.

“I started in 2013 and have tried various seeds and methods to achieve different tastes. The results have been positive so far,” Thein Win told The Irrawaddy over the weekend.

Photos from Shwe Pyin Oo Lwin vineyard in Pyin Oo Lwin Township, Mandalay Division. (Photos: Kyaw Hsu Mon / The Irrawaddy) 
Photos from Shwe Pyin Oo Lwin vineyard in Pyin Oo Lwin Township, Mandalay Division. (Photos: Kyaw Hsu Mon / The Irrawaddy)

He cultivates four grape varietals from Japan, Taiwan, China and the United States, respectively. After three years of preparation, this was the first year the grapes were ready to pick.

“Although we had a successful crop last year, we did not invite people to handpick until this year when there were more grapes to sell,” he added.

Thein Win has invested more than 80 million kyat (about US$70,000) over three years. He now sells at least 5000 viss (one viss is approximately 3.6 pounds) of grapes each day, at 10,000 kyats per viss for handpicked grapes.

“If my workers help pick grapes for visitors, I only charge 8000 kyat per viss; but for handpicked grapes, I charge an extra 2000 kyat because I factor in some loss,” he said.

He added that since he has opened to visitors, he has received at least 100 people each day. He estimated that on weekends, more than 700 people show up to pick grapes and take selfies.

“More people are coming, so the vineyard can make money now,” Thein Win said.

On the weekends, groups line up along the grape vines with bamboo baskets and pick as much as they like, selecting grapes of various colors and sizes.

Thein Win said he expects to expand his vineyard even more in the coming months and years.

“New grape vines should be ready to pick in October, so I will be ready for even more visitors then,” he said.

Maung Maung, a visitor from Pyin Oo Lwin town said picking grapes was a relaxing escape from the stress of urban living.

“It’s a good feeling to pick the grapes before eating them, and also a great spot to take pictures,” he said.