Warren and Tracy Douglas, proprietors of Guyana’s Pandama Retreat and Winery, a utopia tucked away in calming Madewini on the Linden Soesdyke Highway have had to listen to all the guidelines and create a healthy environment as much as possible for “souls to ground their spirits while feeling safe” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Warren, a US Army veteran, and re-migrant, and American-born wife Tracy, a painter and fashion designer, embarked on a new and exciting adventure to produce the first vino company that today, despite having to look on as the world shuts down, restored what “they do know and love, art and wine.”
“As we watched the world shutdown, having no idea what was happening and for how long, we resorted to what we do know and love, art and wine! We went to the market, deciding to use fruit that we had never used before to help with our mental wellbeing!
“Watermelons and tomatoes were in abundance and would provide a new challenge for us, a welcoming distraction,” Tracy told Caribbean Life, during the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, where they created a holiday blend in just four hours, to meet the demand of client, Guyana Telephone & Telegraph, (GT&T) which gifted the bottles.
This special label that reads, “Pandama Wines Happy Holidays – Together We Rise Stronger” certainly speaks to the strength of the brand that has stood strong during this troubling year of the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the world to a standstill.
Tracy, an ace designer who etches unique motif to equal each selection, said while Warren fermented the wine, she added her creative touch to doors, tables and chairs all around their breathtaking property.
Warren expressed: “We would like to thank the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT& T) for collaborating with the Pandama Winery to bring custom labeled Christmas cheer to its staff. We created a special holiday blend to enhance their Christmas experience.”
Of their retreat, Tracy said, “We realize more and more that people need physical and visual comfort. They need to get grounded and have time to catch up to their authentic thoughts and feelings.”
“Many people don’t understand why we have guidelines like no music or negative chatter. They have no idea the joy that is planted in our soil as you hear family and friends talking and laughing while eating out of a calabash,” she put into words the tranquility that attracts tourists from across the world to Pandama.
In addition to selections such as Aunty Desmond, Jumun, Carambola, Pepper, Lime Boulanger (eggplant) Grape Blend and Holiday Blend (all flavors), the vintners have created an immune booster with vinegars, turmeric garlic, onions, Horseradish and hot peppers, called “Fyah Cinder,” to tantalize the taste of every palate.
“To compensate for store closures at the beginning of the pandemic, we started a wine delivery service that we will revisit for 2021 while also expanding our culinary offerings to include wraps and burgers,” said Douglas.
Pandama Wines are available at Pandama Retreat, GMC, FoodMax, and Mango Restaurant in Guyana.
She shared that wine producers are expanding in Guyana. “While the joy of wine making has always been a part of Guyana’s tradition, more Guyanese are seeing a potential economic value in its marketability,” assured the duo who celebrates 12 years of excellence.
“Even though the name of our business is Pandama Retreat, many people would say resort, we truly believe the Retreat component of our business creates refuge as we experience this pandemic.”
“We had to decide how we could show up for ourselves and our community. We expanded seating at the creek, added three covered picnic areas, and one large covered gathering space,” she explained about the vast grounds that cater to weddings, workshops, birthday parties or just large family gatherings.
A Facebook post states: “What a journey, so much growth. COVID-19 has given us time to reflect and rejuvenate! Taking this time to send out a global Hug! And wanting our Pandama Family to know how much you are loved and appreciated.”
Their goal for 2021 is to continue doing what “we have loved doing for the past 12 years, fermenting local fruits, while supporting local farmers, creating art and food that soothes the soul and maintaining a judgment free, ‘Back to Nature Sanctuary’ for our global community to recharge,” Tracy added, like a true believer of better years ahead.