Wine connoisseurs, social butterflies and fancy drinkers all have something in common - they know where the best wines in the world are located. Some would say Italy, others France. And every vinophile must have ticked NAPA Valley in California in their bucket list already.
But if someone sings a different tune and mentions Thailand instead? Expect a lot of raised eyebrows. Truly, the thought of Thailand vineyards sounds preposterous.
If you come across an article hailing Thailand as the wine country you didn't know, you're free to read it here. An expat who got to know the country quite well wrote that piece. While a native may have a different perspective, expats who've been there and everywhere in the country know exactly what they're talking about.
Vinophiles who doubt Thailand's capacity to join the world's best vineyard are justified in their concerns. The country, after all, sits in the tropics, is beset by Monsoon rains for months on end and has a generally hot and humid climate (in days where it doesn't rain).
Unbeknown to many and the rest of the world, there is a growing demand for wine in Bangkok restobars and restaurants, where the capital's high income segments hang out. There was no deliberate intent to exclusively cater to upper markets. Fine wines end up becoming a luxury due to extortion level taxes.
But where can you find Siam's best vineyards?
Here's a rundown of 3 popular wineries in Thailand, their respective locations and what you can expect from each:
Nestled at the heart of the Hua Hin valley, some distance from the beach and luxury resorts, the Monsoon Valley Wines vineyard sparkles like a beacon of hope to aspiring wine entrepereneurs. Native hands move about the vineyard, examining grapes ripe for the picking and subsequently filling in their baskets. Workers cool off the vines using homemade fans.
Founded by Chalerm Yoovidhya, Monsoon Valley Wines has been in operation since 2001. This Thai billionaire of Red Bull fame defied climactic odds and set up a vineyard in a hot and humid chunk of land in Hua Hin. He felt that a Thai winery would boost the local wine culture and encourage the love of fine local wine across the country. Taste classic, premium, signature and flagship wines like White Shiraz Rose and Colombard when you visit Monsoon Valley.
The first ever vineyard in the country, PB Valley Winery began in 1989 on the periphery of Khao Yai National Park, just two hours away from the capital. Khao Yai is a 400-hectare protected park, which houses the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Quality grape varieties are cultivated at the valley including Canernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chenic Blanc among others. Moreover, you can join scheduled guided tours around the vineyard and winery. You can taste wine samples, dine at the valley's classy restaurant or buy choice wines from their wine store. PB Valley has won a number of international and local wine awards.
A relatively newer vineyard compared to the other two, Village Farm & Winery is spread across 13 hectares of land and is managed by a family for several years now. In addition to fine grapes and wine production, there's also a restaurant, spa centre and a hotel within the vineyard.
Volcanic soils surround the estate, reminiscent of the wine regions of Italy. However, this winery's specialty is replicating French wine production techniques. Their famous labels, Château des Brumes Le Prestige and Château des Brumes La Fleur, blend two grape varieties.
Search for condos, villas or properties near vineyards in Hua Hin, Nakhon Ratchasima or Wang Nam Khieo at www.thailand-property.net.