- Ocoa Bay is a new real estate and vineyard development in the Dominican Republic
- The remote region was producing wine as long ago as the sixteenth century
- Developers aim to revive the little-known tradition on a 2 million square meter site
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(CNN) — A little over five centuries ago, the unassuming district of Ocoa Bay in the Dominican Republic became the first wine-producing region of the Americas.
Legend has it that Spanish explorers cultivated grapes here for six years before setting sail for Central America in search of the great Aztecan Empire.
But when they left, the Conquistadors took their quaint interest in viticulture with them.
Local farmers swiftly returned to growing the tropical fruits and vegetables natural to the Caribbean island.
Now, a new vineyard and real estate development is looking to tap into this wine-making history by providing the Caribbean's 21st-century own take on enotourism.
The Ocoa Bay development lies 90-minutes drive from the capital, Santo Domingo and offers newly built homes with specially designed vineyard plots that allow residents to produce their own wine.
Spectacular ocean views and a climate similar to the Mediterranean in summer ensure the 2 million square meter site is a popular spot.
Yet according to architect, Gabriel Acevedo, convincing colleagues and other stakeholders of the area's potential as a property development come vineyard was initially a tough sell.
“We were labeled as crazy — probably because I wasn't an agronomist but an architect — that we even dared to plant 10,000 square meters of grapevines,” Acevedo said.
Sustainability is a key factor in Ocoa Bay's business portfolio — one Acevedo believes to be a game changer for the Dominican Republic.
Project leaders say they spent time with ecology, land management and wildlife consultants before commencing building work in an effort to minimize any negative environmental impacts.
“Ocoa Bay has three pillars, one is the production of high quality wine and fruit cultivation, the others are the hotels and the real estate sector,” Acevedo said.
Developers are relying on the lands' unique dry climate which receives on average of 600 millimeters of rainfall per year to sustain the vineyard.
The construction of the first 30 ecological and vineyard villas are scheduled to begin in December with 33% pre-sold.
High-end realn estate companies like Christie's, meanwhile, are already adding Ocoa Bay to their exclusive listings.
The vineyard's real estate adviser, Cesar Herrera insists that enabling investors to snap up a private property where they can produce their own wine is a unique selling point.
“You don't have anywhere in the world (that has) the possibility to live inside a vineyard and to own,” Herrera said.
“You have several options (of growing grapes) … (and) you will be able to rent your home when you are not there,” Herrera added.
In just over two years, Ocoa Bay has had five successful harvests.
Volumes produced remain low, but quality is high. The price per bottle starts at $15 dollars, setting the bar high for a still young wine producing market.
The Ocoa Bay executive team say they're optimistic about the overall success of this venture
“It's the new, Napa Valley of the Caribbean,” Acevedo said. “The new Bordeaux or Rioja. A unique and new destination in the Caribbean.”
Learn more about OCOABAY, the COMMUNITY of the vines at: www.ocoabay.com