Son Tra Flavor in the fatherland of the Couple A Phu

Like Ta Xua tea tree of Bac Yen, Son Tra tree is famous for its distinct flavor and aroma. Whoever passes through Bac Yen in the Son Tra crop cannot forget to buy some kilos of “Tao Meo” (Cat Apple) as well as to purchase a bottle of Son Tra wine for their welcoming the beginning of a new year.
Son Tra is called Tu Di according to the language of the H’ Mong’s people and its popular name is Tao Meo. Son Tra trees grow naturally together with forest trees on 1,500-2,000 meter mountains. They are found everywhere in Bac Yen. When Son Tra trees blossom, their white blossoms flicker amid a forest of various trees on high mountain chains. When Son Tra fruit is ripe, the H’ Mong people pick and bring them to markets in the centers of districts.

A survey shows that in forests of Bac Yen district, about 2,500 hectares are full of Son Tra trees which produce nearly 100 tons of fruit yearly. Son Tra fruit has a distinct aroma and slightly sour, acrid and sweet flavor. They are soaked thoroughly to make up a kind of beverages or processed to produce wine, jam, etc. Particularly, Son Tra is a kind of herbal remedy of high blood pressure, insomnia, diabetes, etc. Few years ago, Son Tra was known as a kind of fruit of the mountainous area which brought in low profit. In order to take full advantage of its potential profit, Bac Yen district in 1998, with the support of the Department of Science, Technology and Environment of Son La province and the Agricultural Machine Manufacturing Institute, set up a workshop to process Son Tra wine with capacity of 6,000 liters per year and successfully tested the research themed “The Application of Scientific Technical Advances to the Production of Wine from Son Tra Fruit”. Basing on the research and the study of areas planting Son Tra trees, Bac Yen district and the Department of Science, Technology and Environment bought the clean technological production line which automatically ferments the fruit and processes wine with capacity of 100,000 liters per year.

With total investment of VND550 million and the support of the People’s Committee of Bac Yen district, the Phuc Thinh Co-operative has been operating the production line of Son Tra wine. After two years of operation, the co-operative has soaked over 10 tons of Son Tra fruit, and processed and launched to the market nearly 15,000 liters of wine. A staff in charge of technique Nguyen Khac Hieu said, “In order to process high quality wine, we pick Tao Meo fruit which is planted on the height of 1,700-2,000 meters and successfully follow production processes which require at least 6 months to have finished products. Particularly, although this processing technology does not use any alcohol, alcohol concentration reaches 120 resulting from the soaking process creating yeast.”

With slight concentration and special aroma, Son Tra wine is interested by drinkers. When the spring comes, Son Tra wine together with many made-in-Vietnam kinds of wine are exported in bulk to foreign markets and drunk by drinkers across the country in the new year.