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Think Thailand and drinking, and it’s likely you’ll conjure toasting to the sunset with one of the country’s internationally famous beer brands, Chang or Singha. Or perhaps dancing on the beach with a brightly colored pail of cheap whiskey and soda with a handful of straws chucked in. Or maybe sipping an overpriced cocktail at a rooftop bar a la The Hangover II. But wine?

Wine not?

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Yes, Thailand grows grapes. I can’t quite recall when I became obsessed with the idea of taking a grand trip around Thailand’s burgeoning wine country, covered as a quirky oddity in the occasional wine or travel publications. But like most trip ideas, once it took hold, I couldn’t quite let it go until I was packing my bag.

It was a tricky trip to plan mostly due to the fact that I had no idea where to start. Even compiling a list of Thailand’s working wineries that accept visitors was tough; figuring out how to get to them, where to stay and when to go was a one way ticket to spreadsheet city. Like other trips I’ve taken that aren’t detailed in guidebooks or elsewhere on the world wide interwebs, I’ll have a comprehensive guide coming up for those who might want to follow in our tipsy footsteps. For now, I’ll just try to convince you you should.

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Granmonte Winery Thailand

While there are actually a handful of wineries scattered throughout various corners of Thailand (again, stay tuned for more info in my upcoming guide), I decided to focus our trip on the Khao Yai region, where four different vineyards add up to the greatest concentration of wineries in the Kingdom.

Khao Yai is about ninety miles and two hours northeast of Bangkok, and is also home to the stunning Khao Yai National Park that I visited a few months prior — in part as a recon trip for this journey. The rural countryside and cooler temperatures are a literal breath of fresh air for anyone traveling from the capital.

Granmonte Winery Khao Yai

Granmonte Winery Khao Yai

It was also quite the contrast coming from our little island home of Koh Tao. For the last few years I have made it a priority to get my friends off the island and on a little annual getaway somewhere, a tradition that has earned me a fictional travel agency called Wanderland Travels. As in, “I can’t wait to see where Wanderland Travels brings us next!,” while I daydream from the next bar stool.

In the past we’ve hunkered down in villas on Koh Samui and on Koh Phangan, and coming up this year I’m planning to round everyone up for a big festival in Pattaya. But this trip? This will be hard to top.

When I plan a Wanderland Travels excursion, there are a few ground rules. The have to be in Thailand, since we all have different visas with different restrictions and it’s too hard to coordinate a mass exodus. They have to be short and sweet, since much of my crew have businesses to run back on the island. And they have to involve booze (okay, that last one is an unspoken rule, but I think we can all agree it’s pretty foundational.)

This trip hit all the marks. After months of coordinating and dreaming and sending each other wine-drinking memes, I thought I was going to faint of excitement when departure day finally arrived.

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

We had quite the wine appreciation team assembled. Nine of us had traveled together from Koh Tao, with vino-lover Heather flying in from Bali to meet us, and over-pourer Ian’s parents joining us all the way from Canada.

My first instinct was to put us all on a night boat, hop an early flight on the mainland and get picked up by a driver at the airport and be at the wineries before lunch. However, once someone suggested tacking on a wild night on Khao San Road, it would have been rude not to. And so we we left Koh Tao on a cheap ferry and bus combo, took up every bed in a ten person hostel dorm at the chic and highly recommended Nitan Hostel (we booked through Airbnb so we could use my $35 discount code) and spent Friday night in true Khao San fashion — drinking whiskey, singing along to Thai pop songs in an underground nightclub, and engaging in some street side-retail therapy.

The next morning, the driver I’d arranged arrived to whisk us off to wine country.

Granmonte Winery Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Our first stop was GranMonte, a pioneer in the Thai wine industry. The Granmonte vineyard, once a cornfield and cashew plantation, was bought by the Lohitnavy family in 1999 with the hopes of producing wine.

It is a true family operation. Visooth Lohitnavy, founder of the Thai Wine Association and CEO of GranMonte, has passed the torch to his daughter Nikki Lohitnavy, the in-house oenologist — and the first and only female Thai winemaker. I was incredibly excited to visit a winery helmed by a woman, and was touched when she took time out of her busy harvest season to greet us during our visit.

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

We kicked things off with a group tour in an open-air tram of the vineyard’s 40 or so acres, primarily filled by Chenin Blanc and Syryah grapes but also Viognier, Cabinet Sauvingon, Muscat, Semilion, Durif and Granache.

Our sweet young guide was lovely, and valiantly did her best to give a bilingual tour for both our group and some Thai families that were onboard. However, as one point, she became exasperated trying to explain why their sparkling wine product could not be called champagne, and after stammering a bit finally trailed off with a shrug and sighed, “…because France.”

Everyone, including the guide, erupted in giddy laughter and “because France” has become one of our signature sayings ever since.

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Granmonte Winery Thailand

Next up? A spin though the Asoke Valley Winery facilities, which opened in 2009 and produce over 120,000 bottles of wine per year. Here we learned about Nikki’s studies in Australia, admired the fancy equipment imported from Europe, and got to take a peek at the production of wine produced against all odds in the tropics.

And we got a little silly.

Granmonte Winery Thailand

Granmonte Winery Khao Yai

Granmonte Winery Khao Yai

Finally, we made our way to the tasting room to get our hands on the award-winning wines we’d been hearing so much about. Our favorite award, one of many proudly on display around the room? “Best Pairing with Kung Pao Chicken.” I think we all can agree it would be an honor.

After a short video, we got down to sipping. My favorites were the Sakuna Syrah Rosé, the Spring Chenin Blanc and the Busaba dessert wine.

Granmonte Winery Khao Yai

Granmonte Winery Thailand

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

After the tasting, it was time to break at Vincotto Restaurant for lunch in the lush Thai countryside. Vincotto once again keeps things in the family, run by Nikki’s mom and Visooth’s wife, Sakuna.

I’d agonized over the menus and ambiance of this restaurant and the one at the next vineyard we’d be visiting, but after our meal, I couldn’t have been more thrilled with our choice. Because we were a group, Vincotto had several menus we were able to choose from. We settled on a three course set menu, mixing and matching with our favorite wines from the tasting.

Vincotto Restuarant Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

I chose pumpkin and mustard seed soup for my starter, braised lamb in red wine for my entreé, and grape  pie for dessert — and not to brag, but I think I won the meal.

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Granmonte Winery Thailand

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Once we were good and tipsy on lunch wine, it was tie to unleash ourselves in the onsite gift shop. Here we purchased not just wine (I got two bottles) but also high-end grape juice and handmade  fruit jams, salad dressings, and pasta sauces. It was an expat’s dream come true!

Vincotto Restuarant Khao Yai

Vincotto Restuarant Khao Yai

Want to visit GranMonte yourself? Good choice! Granmonte’s vineyard and winery tour has received the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s award for Agrotourism three years in a row — we could see why. While we didn’t absorb tons of technical information due to the language barrier, the tour was efficiently organized, the vineyards and winery were immaculate, and the tasting was well-run. It was the perfect introductory stop of our weekend.

The tour is approximately one and a half hours and costs 300 baht per adult, 220 baht per person under twenty (with grape juice instead of a wine tasting), and free for children under five. During high season, tours are offered every day, but throughout the rest of the year they are offered only on weekends — check the website for details.

GranMonte holds various festivals and events throughout the year, so it might be worth scheduling a visit around one and hunkering down at the onsite guesthouse. For more information on visiting the wineries of Khao Yai, including where to stay, how to hire a driver and more, stay tuned for my upcoming guide to the region.

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

Thailand Wine Trip Khao Yai

GranMonte Winery Thailand

As for us? We had places to go, people to see, and wine to guzzle. Stay tuned for our next stop on the wine squad tour!

After all… wine not? Did you know Thailand had a wine industry?

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26 Comments...
  • molly
    November 22 2016

    Alex is there something wrong with your website or is it just my computer… p.s I love your blog (I have been reading it non- stop for the last year)

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      Hey Molly! I’m so sorry — this month has been a bit of a nightmare with non-stop website issues. It’s not just your computer 🙂 I promise we are working hard to sort it out! I apologize for the inconvenience and hope you’ll keep dropping by!

  • Cate
    November 22 2016

    Wow! I’ve never thought of Thailand has a wine hotspot. This is so cool, can’t wait to see your guide to the region!
    Cate recently posted..Wanted Colorful or Cool: My Bucket List Fall Destinations!

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      Well… hot spot might be pushing it 😉 Warm spot, perhaps?

  • ‘Love this post! And yep! Not at anytime would I have put Thailand and wine, in the same sentence. Very nice indeed lol!
    Victoria @The British Berliner recently posted..16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      Ha! Love to keep you guys guessing!

  • Dominique
    November 23 2016

    Up until the moment I first saw your Instagram pictures I didn’t know Thailand had wineries. I’ve been talking to people about it ever since, and I don’t think anyone knows. It seems like such a nice “off-the-beaten-track” thing to do in Thailand!
    Dominique recently posted..Seoul – One Day of Palaces & Culture

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      Very much off the beaten track! I didn’t know anyone who had visited on either, and I know a lot of people who have spent a lot of time in Thailand. It was a blast!

  • Leah
    November 23 2016

    So bummed I missed out on this! Looks like a great trip, I can’t remember the last time I went on a fun excursion like this with a huge group of pals.
    Leah recently posted..Working from Anywhere as a Self-Taught E-Commerce Marketing Specialist

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      You would have loved it Leah! Wish you could have joined us — you would have been a strong addition to this wine-swilling crew for sure!

  • Marni
    November 23 2016

    I love this line “But like most trip ideas, once it took hold, I couldn’t quite let it go until I was packing my bag.” because that’s exactly how it happens for me! I am so down for any sort of winery, so this trip would be perfect for me. I also never would have associated Thailand with wineries. It looks like you all had a blast, and the scenery is stunning! Great post 🙂
    Marni recently posted..North Coast 500, Scotland – Day 3: On the Road Again

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      Yup, once I get an idea, I’m like a dog with a bone! That’s how the travel magic happens though 🙂

  • Jo-Anne
    November 23 2016

    Never been to Thailand, have no interest in going there, that said I did enjoy the photos and you do make it sound like an interesting place, I only drink a sweet wine most wine is yuck to me
    Jo-Anne recently posted..Why Part 1

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      I feel that way about red wine… have yet to find one I love, only have a few I really tolerate! White wine, on the other hand…

  • Kacy
    November 23 2016

    I love this! I always try to get to a winery when I visit a new place, especially if the wine region is underrated. I’ll definitely be adding this to my list of must-dos in Thailand! Can’t wait for the in-depth guide as well.
    Kacy recently posted..Snapshot: A Sunny Day Getaway to Baltimore

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      I’m the same way… for some reason I’m more drawn to the lesser known wine regions than the big ones. No desire to go to Napa, but spent weeks planning a trip around Khao Yai, ha ha!

  • Chad B.
    November 25 2016

    Dangit… I love your blog and was in Koh Tao the exact same time… wasn’t checking it. Too bad I loved your posts!!!!!

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      Hey Chad, not sure when you are referring to but this trip was actually early in 2016 🙂 Just catching up on blogging now!

  • Amanda Williams
    November 26 2016

    This place looks awesome. I don’t immediately think of Thailand when I think of wine tours so this has opened my eyes. You have some great pics as well. Pinning for future reference as i do love a vineyard!
    Amanda Williams recently posted..Redefine Tourism: Travel Bloggers Respond

    • Alex
      December 4 2016

      Thanks Amanda! So glad to hear that — definitely stay tuned for my upcoming guide which will be massively pinnable as well 😛

  • Kate Storm
    November 26 2016

    How fun! Wine is not exactly what comes to mind when I think of Thailand, but as I love both Thailand and wine… it doesn’t take much to warm up to the idea.
    Kate Storm recently posted..Happy Thanksgiving & Being a Grateful Traveler

    • Alex
      December 5 2016

      Right!? Who knew there were so many vineyards waiting for us to explore! Hoping to hit up another one or two in 2017…

  • Ryan
    February 23 2017

    I know Thailand has a small local wine industry, and I hope it grows. In my opinion they would be smart to get rid of the ridiculously high tax on imported wine. We have to pay 700-1000 baht for French and Italian wines that should really cost no more than 200-300.

    Lowering the barrier for common Thai folk to enjoy wine would increase demand for all wine, both domestic and imported. But I suppose the local beer makers lobby against it, thus the tax.

    • Alex
      February 27 2017

      Believe it or not, the tax is exactly the same for local wineries. And so how could they possibly compete? Indeed, I believe the beer lobbies are to blame!

  • Alana
    March 16 2017

    My husband and I are heading to Thailand in less than a month and I was SO excited to find your post about the wineries in country. So far every country we’ve visited, we try to bring back local wine and I had completely written it off for Thailand due to the lack of knowledge. My question for you is, are you familiar with any notable vineyards to visit in the Northwestern part of the country (Chiang Mai)? We unfortunately wont be in Bangkok long enough to explore the areas you mentioned above. I’ve been searching but not finding much. Any thoughts would be helpful! Can’t wait to explore.

    • Alex
      March 21 2017

      Hey Alana! Two I came across in my research were Mae Chan Winery in Chiang Rai and Chateau de Loei in Loei. If you make it to either, I’d LOVE to hear about your experience as I haven’t made it up there in my wine mission yet 🙂

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