Pataleban is a unique resort where visitors can enjoy locally made wine and organic food.
For almost ten years, an address at Chisapani village, Baadbhanjyang VDC -5, Kathmandu has been doing things differently. The Pataleban Vineyard Resort is a retreat centre which is a combination of a resort, vineyard and winery.
Situated in a pristine area surrounded by a community forest, the resort lies1600 metres above sea level and is reached also by the Chandragiri Cable Car system. As an original idea, the retreat centre takes it influences from a famous winery resort in Japan, namely the Nichibi Kaikanin Tokyo.
Covering an area of 42 ropanis, Pataleban provides mesmerising views of the Langtang, Ganesh, Manaslu, Annapurna Himalayan ranges and the valley of Dhading. Theresort, which has grape farming as its main attraction, was established with the aim of promoting and developing eco-tourism, horticulture and organic farming.
The resort was registered in 2006 and opened its doors for customers in 2008. "At that time the investment was low because the price of land was not expensive,” says Uddav Thapa, co-owner of Pataleban Vineyard Resort. “But considering today's market valuation the total investment nears Rs 200 million which also includes the estimation of the vineyards located in nearby Kaule and Kewalpur villages covering an area totaling 200 ropanis of land," adds Thapa, who oversees the day-to-day management of the place.
The front area of the resort consists of a vineyard. And the vineyard is the major captivating factor of the resort which lures visitors from Nepal and abroad. Making wine is a forte here. "The first and foremost attraction of this resort is wine made from grapes for our visitors and guests. The grapes that are used for making wine are grown in our vineyard. We also import grapes from USA, Japan, Germany and Switzerland," Thapa says.
The resort boasts a link with Japan where the craft of making wine was learned. Thapa says the resort produces 4,000-5,000 bottles of wine per year from grapes picked from the two vineyards of the resort and Kaule.
“If we can harvest and process grapes from the other vineyards, we will be able to produce 25,000 to 30,000 bottles yearly", he shares, adding, “Production of wine at the vineyard located at Kewalpur is yet to start, may be after two years.”
Wine is something that tastes great the longer it matures. The more grapes are matured, the better the wine becomes. "It takes eight years to make good tasty wine and now we have grapes which are of 6-7 years old," he shares. He believes that among the three types of wine (red, white and rose) that the resort produces, the red wine is their best bottle. "The grapes for white and rose wine are at the pre-mature stage due to which we are not able to reach our potential," he says.
According to Thapa, the wines produced are mainly consumed by guests coming to the resort. Besides this, the resort will also distribute some to Pokhara this year. Along with this, one lot of wine has also been exported to Japan.The wine is priced at Rs 1900 per bottle."The cost is high in compared to the other wines in the Nepali market. However, we will lower it after our production increases," Thapa shares.
The rooms of Pataleban Resort are spacious and present an amazing view of the forest and the vineyard. Presently, the resort has 29 rooms and it is planning to expand the number of rooms to 50 very soon. The resort also provides guided tours of the forest and local area.
Pataleban Resort also has a conference hall which can accommodate 50-60 people. Soon, the resort is preparing to add one more conference hall which is planned to be completed within a year.
The place also welcomes its guests by offering to pick them up from Tribhuvan International Airport.
Other places where visitors can spend their time are at the Dart bar, Bar-b-que Garden, Kafal Chautari Beer Garden. The resort serves organic food items, local food items like Dhindo prepared from millet, buckwheat, potatoes, chicken, etc. from their own farm and local market.
Apart from this, Pataleban Resort also has picnic arrangements with full caterings for groups especially those from corporate houses and banks. "The guests who are visiting our resort are 90 percent Nepali and 10 percent foreign. Usually visitors know about the resort through the website, word of mouth and brochures," shares Thapa. “Conferences, picnics and other events cover 40 percent of the operational costs of the resort," adds Thapa. The resort employs 35 staff in total where 75 percentare local.
Apart from the key attractions like the location and wine, one reason to visit the resort is for its sense of isolation. Visitors can relax far from the noise and hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy treks, picnics and a country life.Though there is a gravel road linking the resort to outside areas, many visitors reach there via a hiking route.The place can be a perfect choice if someonewants to take a break from a hectic daily schedule.
Challenges and Plans
The aim of the project was to build a tourist standard resort by developing grape farming, carrying out animal husbandryorganic farming and winery to let their guests enjoy the local flavours produced in the place itself. Another major reason behind the establishment of Pataleban was to develop eco-tourism by engaging the local community in it.
"Though we have been guiding our staff from the beginning, we have not been able to provide excellent services like the finer hotels as most of our employees are local and they are not highly trained," Thapa says. "Nonetheless, hiring local people has also made our operation smooth as staff turnover is as low as 5 to 10 percent."
When talking about the physical Infrastructure, power cuts are a major problem for the resort. "Once when the power goes out, it is difficult to operate the resort for 2-3 days as it is located at a height. Despite the back-up electricity, capacity is questionable as rooms have heaters, ACs, and other facilities," Thapasays.
He says that the road is also not in a proper condition but the resort is making an effort to maintain it in the coming days by negotiating with the local people. He believes that with the construction of the road, the resort will be able to make travelling easier for its guests and attract even more visitors.