The wine destination you never knew existed

Asked to name the world’s best wine country and you’ll most likely tout the undulating vineyards of Italy, France or California. But Thailand? With its smouldering weather and chalky soil, Thailand is not top of a vinophile’s bucket list. But Tamara Hinson discovers why it should be.
Cocktails and Chang beer are no longer the only drinks being served in Bangkok‘s chicest rooftop bars. The city’s upwardly mobile masses have a new-found thirst for wine – but the extortionate taxes slapped on imported alcohol mean that it’s a luxury few could enjoy. Until now.
Tucked between the rolling hills of Hua Hin, away from the coastal region’s sandy beaches and five-star resorts, Monsoon Valley Wines‘ vineyard is a hive of activity. Local workers move slowly along the vines, filling baskets with ripe grapes and wafting away the heat with homemade fans. A family of four cycles past, leaving behind wisps of chalky soil.
This hot, humid chunk of Thailand isn’t an obvious choice for a vineyard. The same could be said for the entire country. But that didn’t deter Chalerm Yoovidhya, who founded Monsoon Valley Wines in 2001.Yoovidhya, the Thai billionaire behind the Red Bull empire, had always loved fine wine, and felt that a Thailand-based winery would boost the blossoming wine culture in his country.

Critics scoffed, pointing out that decent wine simply couldn’t be made in this hot, humid country, with its chalky soil and searing heat. But Yoovidhya persisted, and today his company is one of Asia‘s most successful wine brands, with the largest network of international distributors.

Despite being a safe country with no shortage of breathtaking historical sites, friendly people and some of the world’s most stunning wilderness Jordan is often overlooked by travellers.