Kao Yai – The Wine Center of Thailand?

I did a day trip to the beautiful region of Kao Yai, about 1 to 2 hours drive North East of Bangkok. My purpose was to check out this now popular “Thailand wine region”. The area has become the “Napa Valley” of Thailand with a few attractive and pricey wineries clustered around the Nao Yai National Park.

Thailand’s wine industry is about a decade old. It started with Chateau de Loei in the north, followed by Siam Winery to the south of Bangkok in the Chao Phraya Delta. However, the area that now seems to be a centre for wine growing is the Khao Yai National Park. Not only does the area produce wine and grape juices it has become the center for wine tourism.

At 350 metres above sea level and the vineyards situated in valleys, the area has all the right microclimate conditions ideal for growing quality grapes especially for wine making. The wine grapes produced in the area of different varieties including Shiraz, Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. A fair amount of table grapes is also grown such as Muscat of Alexandria and Hamburg, Thomson seedless and Perlette.

One of several wineries in the area I visited was GranMonte Family Winery in Asoke Valley, Khao Yai. It conveniently lies adjacent to Khao Yai National Park. Asoke Valley is known in Thailand for the beautiful yellow blossom flower that is special to the region of Khao Yai. The serene atmosphere and truly beautiful surroundings of Asoke Valley, Khao Yai provides a perfect environmental setting for the GranMonte Vineyards.

Next on my stop was a visit to PB Valley Winery, not far from GranMonte. The winery sits amidst a lush 320-hectare plantation, of which 80 hectares is dedicated to growing grapes.

In its sixteenth year of operation, the winery boasts itself as being the birthplace of Thailand’s wine industry.

It has a large-scale wine operation, state-of-the-art technology. We were there a short time and did not try any of the wines, as they were not pouring any at that time. However, we did get to try the most amazing passion fruit juice!

After that, it was a relatively long drive to another winery on the other side of the National park called Village Farm Winery. The winery is very small but quite attractive. The whole area has a rustic feel, which I like, and it also acts as a hotel and restaurant. Again, I did not have any wine as they were sold out!

It was a good day trip but again, I don’t think it is where I will set up my winery. The area is busy over weekends with well to do Bangkok Thais out on the weekend but absolutely dead during the week. I would love to live there for the lifestyle though.

If you ever visit the area, whatever you may think of the wine (and do not go expecting too much), its an interesting alternative day out or weekend away from Bangkok.

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