Southeast Asia may not be the region that would roll off the tongue of a sommelier, but countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia may pleasantly surprise visitors looking to elevate their vacation with some outstanding Asian wine.
Raise your glass as we dive into the top vineyards wine lovers can visit when in Southeast Asia.
1. Hatten Wines in Bali, Indonesia
First, we head northeast to Hatten Wines for a treat. After spending a glorious day on the beautiful beaches of Bali, it’s good to indulge yourself in some casual wine tasting before going back to rest in your resort or hotel room. Hatten Wines sits in a 34-hectare grape-growing land filled with nutrient-rich soil and spring water. Visitors will be pleasantly surprised that the grapes grown here are not only suited for the tropical Balinese climate but also complement the spicy local food.
Owned by a local Balinese family, Hatten Wines has been producing wine since 1994. Travelers can attend the wine classes, enjoy complimentary wine tastings, and visit the wine boutique. Get a glimpse of the grapes from the main road toward the beach, starting from the tourist town of Lovina, which runs all the way to the Pembuteran beach resort.
The Hatten Wines has also been awarded the 2017 Winery of the Year title by the Asian Wine Review.
Related article: 10 Best Luxury Hotels and Resorts In Bali
2. Monsoon Valley in Hua Hin, Thailand
After finishing a lively tour of the city in Bangkok, travelers can venture south to Monsoon Valley for a unique experience of seeing wine and elephants peacefully and harmoniously coexisting. Given they are outside the traditional wine-growing latitudes, this Vineyard thought of a creative approach to viticulture. The area was once inhabited by wild elephants, but after being cared for and domesticated, they still roam the Vineyard and are considered part of the grape cultivation process.
The Monsoon Valley Vineyard was founded in 2001. It has been offering unique wine selections and fun non-wine-related activities since. Tourists visit to do some mountain biking and experience wine safari where they can start at the vineyards and into Kuiburi National Park for wildlife watching.
Baan Khork Chang, where the Vineyard is located, is also a few kilometers away from the Hua Hin beach. With this proximity to the beach, the grapes from Monsoon Valley Vineyard grow from the unique loamy soil, which is enriched with the minerality of shells and fossils.
3. Aythaya Vineyard in Inle Lake, Myanmar
Following a visit to Myanmar’s sacred temples around the country, visitors are encouraged to climb to the Aythaya Vineyard, the nation’s first vineyard, and witness its splendor. It was founded in 1999 near Taunggyi in the southern Shan State, with some 15,000 vines initially imported from Europe. Its high altitude and rainfall make for fairly distinct grapes and good wine. On top of that, the Vineyard only cultivates noble grape varieties for their wines. These factors have made this place a treasured winery spot in the region.
Aythaya Vineyard’s signature wines include the Aythaya Red, a Shiraz, Dornfelder, and Tempranillo blend; the Aythaya White, a Sauvignon Blanc dominant white blend; and the Aythaya Rosé.
The Sunset Wine Garden, complemented by European cuisine, is among the main draws for this Vineyard. Tourists will marvel at the gorgeous sunset while having a wonderful wine experience.
4. GranMonte: Khao Yai, Thailand
Located just outside Khao Yai National Park, the GranMonte has a 12-hectare plot that produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Durif, Shiraz, and Grenache, among others. The small region is perfect for tourists looking for a weekend trip outside Bangkok.
GranMonte is also one of the best-known winemakers in Thailand, so it is often tagged as the Napa Valley of Thailand. Khao Yai is blessed with a microclimate, which means their atmospheric conditions can differ from their surrounding areas. Before growing grapes, GranMonte produced cornfields and cashew nuts.
GranMonte’s restaurant, VinCotto, also has good food, featuring a 5-course menu and wine pairings. For travelers interested in visiting, the best time to visit is between May and October to see the vines fruiting. Those who want to see the harvest festival can also visit during February when the Vineyard starts harvesting its grapes.
5. Banan Winery or Prasat Phnom Banan Winery in Battambang, Cambodia
Situated 12 kilometers from the city of Battambang on the banks of the Sangkar River, the Banan Winery in Cambodia grew from vines brought from France on 8 hectares of land. Banan Winery or Prasat Phnom Banan Winery is named after the nearby Banan temple.
The winery was established in 1999 when Leng Chan Tol and her husband Chan Thai Chhoung planted their first grapes. By 2004, they managed to bottle their first batch of wines. Chhoung taught himself how to make wine by reading books he translated from French to Khmer and reaching out to experts for advice. Today, Banan Winery consistently produces 10,000 bottles a year of Red Wine, a Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon blend.
Curious wine lovers can sample the Red Wine, along with a smooth, golden-colored Phnom Banon Brandy. While in the area, visitors can go to the Battambang Resort, which offers modern villas and traditional-style wooden houses.
6. Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery in Nyaungshwe, Myanmar
Red Mountain Estate Vineyards is located in the Southern Shan State of Myanmar. In 2003, Red Mountain imported over 400,000 vines from France, Spain, and Israel to plant in their Vineyard. Two neighboring plantation sites were also carefully selected based on the condition required for a successful harvesting cycle.
Red Mountain Estate began its wine production in 2007 and now releases about 16,500 cases a year of wine, including Shiraz, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, among many others.
The estate’s fresh air and the sweeping view of the vineyards and the lake will not be lost on the visitors who love not only the wine but the Vineyard’s accompanying natural surroundings.
Wineries scattered across the Southeast Asian regions are perfect for travelers looking for vintners with extraordinary stories and incredible wine to supplement their journey. Asia might be known for its tropical climate, world-class beaches, and colorful culture, but you’ll be remiss if you skip these fantastic wineries on your next visit.
Whether it’s to sample wine or gain insight into the growth of viticulture in Asia, you won’t regret adding these vineyards to your next vacation’s itinerary.
Featured Image: Anastasia Koren