You may associate fine dining with Thailand, but fine wines and Thailand doesn’t have a familiar ring. At The 9th Floor we’re passionate about wine and love to explore all that is happening in the world of wine. We thought it was high time to look at wine in our home country.
Historically, wine is not part of the Thai culture, but during a royal project they discovered that specific regions in Thailand which had a more mediterranean climate than tropical could produce grapes suitable for wine. It wasn’t until the early nineties when the wine industry started. Dr. Chaijudh Karnasuta is known as the “father” of Thailand’s grape wine industry. In 1991 Karnasuta planted his first vines at Chateau de Loei and just 4 years later had a harvest fit to be sold. It was the first wine to be exported to Europe and Japan. The PB Valley vineyards were planted in 1992. Since the nineties Thailand has been one of the leaders in the production of grapes for wine in a challenging tropical climate. In wine circles, wines from Thailand are known as “new latitude” wines. Most of the wine in Thailand is produced in the cooler temperatures of the northern parts of Thailand, and after signficant investment the wine has dramatically improved over the last 5 to 10 years. Many of the successful vineyards and wineries in Thailand have employed experts from established wine producing countries such as France, Germany and new world wine producers such as Australia and New Zealand.
There is an excellent range of wines produced by Thailand:
The climate is a challenge with boiling hot dry seasons and torrential rainy seasons, but sadly the biggest obstacle to the growth of the industry is actually the continuing high tax on wine in Thailand. The high tax means Thai wine is very expensive.
With production at over 1 million bottles per year Thailand is yet to be known as a country producing great wine, but interest is developing. If you’re lucky enough to be staying in Thailand it is worthwhile picking out a wine from one of the better known labels and giving it a go. You may find Thai wine is another delicacy to add to your list.
In Thailand there are four core wine regions:
Some of the most well-known wineries are:
GranMonte Vineyard & Winery – Asoke Valley, Khao Yai
This vineyard is about 160 km northeast of Bangkok and is about 16 hectares. The vineyard grows mainly Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc grapes. The vineyard offers guided tours and wine tasting.
Village Farm & Winery – Wang Nam Khiao
Just 13 hectares, this family-run enterprise grows the grapes, produces the wine and runs wine classes and tastings. They also have on-site a hotel, restaurant and spa. The Village Farm is fortunate with their soil which has ancient volcanic rock elements which make it similar to the Lombardy and Burgundy regions in Italy. They grow the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grape and then use traditional techniques to make their wine.
Monsoon Valley Vineyard – Hua Hin
This vineyard is at the bottom of the mountains seperating Thailand from Myanmar. Their vineyard covers about 110 hectares. This vineyard provides wine tasting and an abundance of other activities such as mountain biking and painting. Their most prestigious wine is the Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blanc which has won several international awards. Monsoon Valley was established in 2001 by Chalerm Yoovidhya (the Thai billionaire behind the Red Bull empire).
PB Valley Winery – Khao Yai
This was the first winery to open in Thailand and is northeast of Bangkok on the edge of Khao Yai National Park. It is one of the largest vineyards in Thailand with 400 hectares of vines. The winery grows many grape varieties including Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir. The vineyard operates wine guided tours, a restaurant and a retail area to purchase wine and other wine related merchandise. Over the years PB Valley has won several international awards from AWC Vienna, Decanter Magazine UK, APEC Australia and the Thai Wine Challenge.
Silverlake Vineyard – Pattaya
Southeast of Pattaya city this winery is over 194 hectares. They grow Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc. The vineyard also has a restaurant and a shop selling the wine. The winery also has a bed and breakfast.