Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Grapes and Elephants
Last week, my esteemed colleague and guest blogger Kerry van der Jagt wrote about two excellent wineries in the Khao Yai district which are leading the charge in Thailand’s burgeoning wine industry.
One of the best and most popular names in Thai wines is Monsoon Valley, based out of Siam Winery’s Hua Hin Vineyard. Established on a former elephant corral in 2004, and spread out over 1000 rai (400 acres) this lovely vineyard produces multi-award winning wines in over 20 varietals, including Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Muscat, Shiraz and Tempranillo.
There must be something about all that elephant dung underfoot - because these are highly drinkable wines, especially its flagship range including Monsoon Valley Muscat and Monsoon Valley Cuvee de Siam Blanc, which took out the Gold Medal at the Mundus Vini International Awards in Germany in 2011.
According to chief winemaker, Kathrin Puff from Germany, “new latitude” wines like Thai wine “teach the right to be wrong. They turn the wine world upside down.” Because of the rainy season, all the usual grape harvesting techniques have to be done twice - consequently, there is twice the hardship. “
Having said that, it also allows for experimentation and innovation - and with climate change now an inevitable part of our future, perhaps the new wine frontiers like Thailand and India can truly become competitive on the world market.
For now, however, a visit to the Monsoon Valley winery is a blissful day out from Hua Hin. Dine in the very smart architect-designed Sala Wine Bar and Bistro overlooking the vines, with gourmet Thai and international meals teamed with a selection of Monsoon Valley wines; and visitors can even express their artistic skills by designing and painting their own unique wine label, which they can take back home as a unique souvenir.
And where else in the world can you ride an elephant through a vineyard! This is when you realise that, for all its classic old-world appearance, this is indeed Thailand - with a unique and exciting new product.
The vineyard is open daily from 10am-7pm except Mondays. There are two daily transfers from Hua Hin Market Village at 10:30am and 3pm. A 15min elephant tour costs 300 baht per person, or 500 baht for 30 mins.
www.huahinhillsvineyardcom or www.siamwinery.com