With their upset victory in the famous 1976 Judgment of Paris, Chateau Montelena set off a wine revolution whose ripple effects would continue for decades. The victory not only established Napa Valley as a preeminent wine producing region, but it also gave the small ‘David’ vintners of the world the confidence to compete on the same stage with the ‘Goilath’s,’ most notably French wines.
Elegantly nestled at the foothills of the Kaeng Krachan National Park in Thailand, 40 kilometers west of the scenic central coast beach enclave of Hua Hin, sits one such winery rising on the global stage. Positioned proudly at the 13th latitude, the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard is adding an exotic touch to traditional viticulture disciplines to produce their palate pleasing line of Monsoon Valley Wines.
Built on the location of a former elephant corral, the unique terrain provides a healthy and favorable atmosphere for cultivation. In addition to the fertile soil, the grapes also benefit from a Mediterranean-like breeze blowing in off the Gulf of Thailand. Both these factors contribute to the winery’s ability to grow 5 different grape varieties on the premise (Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Muscat).
At Hua Hin Hills visitors can traverse the vineyard on the back of an Elephant, 300 Baht ($9.30) for 15 minutes, but it’s walking through on foot that provides the up-close look necessary to see just how well these grapes grow in the tropical climate. Industry norms say wines should be grown in the 30o – 50o latitude range, however, with a combination of old world European tradition and the latest technology and wine making innovations of the Americas, Hua Hin Hills has been able to perfect tropical viticulture and turn the wine making world up-side down with their New Latitude Wines.
Overlooking the property is the traditionally Thai designed Sala and Bistro, a perfect place to relax after a stroll through the vineyard. Tables line the outer balcony where visitors can sit, eat and enjoy a bottle of wine while taking in the 180o view. Inside is a gift shop and two tasting stations where visitors can sample the Monsoon Valley Wines. Tasting packages are available and range from 240 Baht ($7.45) up to 1,050 Baht ($32.55), with the option to pair your wines with tapas.
Adjacent to the tasting station in another horseshoe shaped pouring area. If a wine you tasted really spoke to your palate and you’d like to enjoy more, purchase a bottle and bring it to one of the sommeliers who will be happy to keep your glass filled and engage you about vintage.
The flagship range of wines offered at Hua Hin Hills is the Cuvée de Siam. Made from only the oldest and best vines in the vineyard, grapes from the shiraz and sangiovese vines are carefully hand-picked and used to create The Cuvée de Siam Rouge. The special 18 month aging process in French barrels enhances this wine to produce a smooth, rich taste that livens your taste buds and lingers in your mouth. Perfectly paired with a relaxing view of the valley below and a plate of the Bistro’s calamari, this wine’s enticing bouquet will have you feeling like you’re in a tropical paradise.
Hua Hin attracts visitors from around the world, most of whom come to experience the seas, golf and tasty sea food. It’s only the lucky handful that venture off the beaten path who get to experience the true hidden pleasures of the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard. In addition to sampling the finest wines Thailand has to offer; the elephant rides, playing petanque under the mango trees, mountain biking through the property and painting your own label are just a few additional activities that make the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard a unique and perfect way to spend an afternoon.
How To Get There
Hua Hin is located a short 200 km from Bangkok and is easily reachable by private car, taxi or train. Once in Hua Hin hiring a tuk-tuk or taxi to take you to the winery is no problem at all. The winery is set roughly 40km west of town and here is the best way to get there:
– From town take the main Phetkasem Road and turn onto Soi 70.
– Go west up Soi 70 past the small roundabout and just after veer to the right onto Highway 3218.
– Highway 3218 is a straight shot and when you reach the intersection of Highway 4 follow the roundabout to the left under the highway, then continue on straight once you pass under. This will continue taking you west on Highway 3218.
– Shortly after the roundabout Highway 3218 continues straight but changes into Highway 3219. Continue on for about another 15km.
– At the junction of Highway 3301 there is a large 4-way intersection, with a large picture of the King and Queen on the left side of the road, turn right here onto the Rural Road 4028.
– This road leads the final 9km to the winery. Along the road there are small orange signs which direct drivers to the destination.