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Berry delicious: Japanese kyoho grapes right here in Changhua


· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

At this time of year, if you’re hanging out for some “hen bang e” grapes, Changhua County’s Dancun Township is the place to go.


Dancun was the first area to grow Japanese kyoho grapes in Taiwan. Although Dancun produces a large crop of kyoho grapes, the quality is excellent and many vineyards catering to tourists allow visitors to experience the fun of picking grapes for themselves. “‘Hen bang e’ is a homonym in Taiwanese for “pick-your-own,” says the smiling owner of Dreamer’s Tourist Vineyard, Lai Chang-jui.


To ensure visitors to his vineyard eat healthy grapes, Lai uses organic farming techniques, plant-based organic liquid compost and no herbicides. Lai also lets chickens and ducks, which feed on insects, roam freely on the farm to reduce insect damage to his crop. Also, due to a lack of rain, this year Lai says his grapes have grown particularly large and sweet; to eat, they are firm and chewy, fragrant and sweet.


In the ten years Lai has run his pick-your-own vineyard, visitors have come from all over Taiwan including from abroad to have a go. Lai recommends fruit picking as a great interactive activity for the family, and says the grape picking season runs until approximately the end of July.


If you want to pick grapes, you can also go to Iku Vineyards & Gasthof Vitis. This vineyard also features over one hectare of kyoho grape vines and a guesthouse. Owner Lai Wei-chih also explains the science behind grapes with explanatory talks and guidance for visitors.


According to Lai, when picking kyoho grapes, it is not simply a case of selecting the biggest ones. Grapes should have a deep purple or redish-black color and luster, says Lai, and the more “bloom” — a powdery-white coating on the surface of the grape — the better. Lai also gives the tip that bunches with between 30-40 grapes on them will be the sweetest.


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