Sip local wine, savor views at these Southeast Asian vineyards
WINE that is produced in a tropical climate? How is that even possible?
Oh, but it is. And there are a handful of Southeast Asian locations that are known to be wine destinations, complete with vineyards that yield the wine.
Southeast Asia may not seem like the ideal region to produce wine considering its soaring temperatures and high rainfall, but the thirst for wine is growing and tropical wine-making is happening.
“When it comes to wine producing in Southeast Asia, it takes a lot of guts and courage because skeptics have always pushed back, saying this is impossible and the best wines come only from France,” The Peak quoted wine critic and wine-maker Eddie McDougall as saying.
“The traditional textbook methods of Western wine-making are not relevant to tropical viticulture. Asian wine-makers have come very far in 25 years and achieved what the Europeans probably took 50 years to do. They’re writing their own textbook.”
The global wine market is set to grow by 25 percent by 2022, the majority driven by Asian markets, according to the International Wine & Spirit Research (IWSR).
In the past 25 years, Southeast Asia’s own brands of wine have emerged in the market. And here’s where they come from:
Hua Hin, Thailand: Monsoon Valley
For Thailand, it all began in the late 1980s when the first vines were brought to the Hua Hin Hills by the King of Thailand Rama IX as a royal project.
Decades later, those efforts blossomed. And now, Thailand has its very own wine regions.
Making huge strides in wine production is Hua Hin’s Monsoon Valley, an award-winning vineyard with activities, mesmerizing rural beauty, and elephants (it’s built on a former elephant corral).
The vineyard covers 560 acres of the scenic mountain valley and grows Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo.
After every successful harvest season, Monsoon Valley throws a party.
At the side of the vineyard is their open-pavilion restaurant, The Sala Wine Bar & Bistro, where dining on a menu of traditional Thai dishes and wine tasting are available.
Monsoon Valley can be reached can be reached via tuk-tuk, a private taxi, or van provided by the vineyard’s management.
Inle Lake, Myanmar: Aythaya Vineyard
For various reasons, Myanmar is an extraordinarily beautiful country. With its sprawling nature, cultural and religious sites, its bustling capital Yangon, exquisite cuisine, and yes, wine production.
A hidden gem up in the mountains, near the tourist hotspot of Inle Lake, Aythaya Vineyard’s altitude of 1,200 meters and high rainfall makes for some good wine.
The estate, spread over gently sloping hills, was originally established in 1999 with some 15,000 vines imported from Europe.
Today, the vineyard produces a handful of local wines: a red, made mainly with Shiraz grapes; two Sauvignon/Chenin Blanc blends, one of which is harvested late; a rosé, and a dessert wine.
It makes as many as 300,000 bottles of Aythaya wine a year, selling around 85 percent to locals and the rest to tourists.
For the perfect Southeast Asian vineyard experience, guests can sample their wines and delicious local food at the Sunset Wine Garden, then retreat to Aythaya Vineyard’s Monte Divino Lodge.
If it tickles your fancy, you may even opt for a more private sunset dining on the lake.
Pattaya, Thailand: Silverlake Vineyard
Pattaya is reputed for its sun, sand, sea, booze, parties, but also the quaint and peaceful Silverlake Vineyard.
Located in the countryside southeast of Pattaya, the vineyard produces both wine and table grapes with technique and technology imported from Italy.
It was founded in 2002 with the purpose of combining the owners’ passions for good wine and music.
Several grape varieties are grown, from which Silverlake Vineyard’s white, red and rosé wines are produced.
There’s also a shop on site where visitors may purchase products such as vine-fresh grapes and homemade jams and juices.
If you’d like, you may request for a guided tour of the romantic vineyard and the Tuscan-style winery.
After which, make a pitstop at Silverlake’s Wine and Grill Restaurant and Pizza Café for a spot of outdoor wine sipping and dining with panoramic views.
Bali, Indonesia: Hatten Wines
Making wine in the scorching heat of an island destination was one challenge that Hatten Wines was willing to accept.
Since 1994, Hatten Wines on Bali’s north coast has been breaking the rules of traditional viticulture and winemaking.
Unbeknownst to many, the northeast of the Indonesian island has long been growing grapes, thanks to its clean mountain springs, rich soil, and lots of sunny days.
The vineyard uses two French table grape varieties, Alphonse-Lavallée and Belgia, to make wine, as well as the local Propolinggo Biru grapes for one of the sparkling wines.
To try their full range of wines, head to Hatten Wines’ signature Cellar Door, where the vineyard’s state-of-the-art winemaking facility is located.
Don’t worry about missing the wine tasting schedule as Cellar Door features wine tastings seven days a week – perfect refreshments for the hot Bali climate.
Khao Yao, Thailand: GranMonte
Nestled in Khao Yao’s Asoke Valley in Thailand, GranMonte originally existed for the sole purpose of hosting cornfields and cashew nuts.
Until its wine-loving founder Visooth Lohitnavy decided to turn it into a vineyard, that is.
At 350 meters above sea level with a total area of approximately 40 acres, it has the ideal microclimate for growing grapes and winemaking.
Visooth studied vines and soil types, choosing the right varieties of the common grape vine to discover those which would grow and yield fruit for the next generations.
Today, the vineyard produces wines such as including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Semillon, Verdelho, Durif, and Grenache.
GranMonte also houses VinCotto, a restaurant that features a five-course menu and wine pairings, as well as a cozy GranMonte Guest House with views of either the forest or the vineyard.
The best months to go for a vineyard staycation are May and October, but if you’d like to witness the harvest festival, plan a trip for sometime in February.