A visit to Thai winery, Granmonte Family Vineyard

May 31, 13 A visit to Thai winery, Granmonte Family Vineyard
Granmonte Vineyard

me and Nikki amongst the Granmonte vines

Earlier this year I escaped to the sunny beaches of Thailand but on my way to the beach I stopped off to visit Thai winery, Granmonte Family Vineyard. I know you may be surprised to hear that wine is produced in Thailand. I must admit when I first heard of it, I was extremely sceptical, especially as I had tried Thai wines in London and not been very impressed. But a few years ago I had met Nikki Lohitnavy, the young winemaker of Granmonte, in Bordeaux and tried her wines, very good indeed. So it was with much anticipation that I headed to Granmonte after touching down in BKK.

Nikki and Visooth Lohitnavy

Nikki and Visooth Lohitnavy, checking the grapes

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Granmonte is a boutique, family owned vineyard that was started by Nikki’s father, Visooth, in the late 1990’s. The vineyard is located in the Asoke Valley which is located adjacent to the Thai national park of Khao Yai, roughly 175 kms northeast of Bangkok. One interesting fact I discovered while there is that the Asoke Valley was designated by the King of Thailand as vineyard country to combat poppy growing (and opium production) back in the mid-20th century. The valley has a unique microclimate, situated at 350 metres, it is cool enough year round to grow grapes. Although this being Thailand, it’s still quite warm. The Khao Yai park is also one of the few places in Thailand where wild tigers can be found and elephants as well. Nikki related a story where the local elephants were eyeing her vines and the ripe grapes on them. Luckily, they weren’t able to cross the road, otherwise it would have been bye-bye that year’s harvest.

at least he won't eat the grapes

at least he won’t eat the grapes

experimental durif plot

experimental durif plot

Nikki joined as the family winemaker in 2009 shortly after finishing her wine education at the University of Adelaide. She has done several harvests around the world and has brought all that knowledge to her family vineyard. Granmonte specialize in chenin blanc and syrah but Nikki has plenty of other experimental plots going on their 15 hectares.

entrance

entrance

While I was there, we went out and visited the vines – from Riesling to Durif, Nikki is looking to find the best grapes for the microclimate of their vineyard. Her most recent experimental plot is cabernet sauvignon that has been developed for hot climates. She has high hopes for this clone and based on what she’s made so far, I have no doubt she’ll be making excellent hot climate cabernet soon.

this way...

this way…

After my vineyard tour, we went to the tasting room where I tasted through their range and was very impressed. Nikki has managed to make balanced, dry wines in the tropical country of Thailand. That’s not to say that all of them are dry. She also caters to the local market, making an off dry rosé that, while it’s certainly not Blossom Hill sweet, it does have residual sugar. However, having said that, it’s has enough acidity to fight off all the sugar and is very good with spicy Thai food. I later found out that the rosé, Sakuna – named for Nikki’s mother, is now available in select San Francisco Bay Area Thai restaurants, lucky Californians!

tasting room

tasting room

Besides the vineyard, they have also built a tasting room, restaurant and guest house. The tasting room, called Montino features not only their wine but a host of wine related products including grape juice made from Syrah. Nikki is not too keen on making non-alcoholic grape juice but this being Thailand, not everyone that goes to a vineyard goes there to drink wine – believe it or not…

tasting with Nikki

tasting with Nikki

they make both a still and sparkling rose

they make both a still and sparkling rose

The restaurant, VinCotto, is situated next to a beautiful lily pond and sitting out there for breakfast, we could hear the tropical birds hooting and tweeting. All of the dishes on the menu were created by Nikki’s mother, Sakuna, over many years in her family kitchen. Having eaten there, I can say, the food is delicious.

Nikki at lunch, on the Vincotto deck

Nikki at lunch, on the Vincotto deck

spicy shrimp for lunch

spicy shrimp for lunch

Thai breakfast

Thai breakfast

Granmonte also have a guest house on the premises which is available to the public. The guest house has great views of the vineyards and with a second floor terrace that runs the length of the building, it’s a great spot to enjoy a glass of wine or two.

view from the guesthouse balcony

view from the guesthouse balcony

The vineyard is popular as a weekend destination for Bangkok city dwellers but it’s a great spot for foreign visitors as well. Visit the Granmonte Family Vineyards website for more information on how to get there and everything they have to offer. If you’ve never thought of Thailand as a wine producing country, you’re not alone but Nikki Lohitnavy and her family are doing their best to change your mind.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. hi ! may I ask how much is the entrance fee to the vineyard? thanks!

    • Hi, the tours of the vineyard are complimentary but there may be a small fee for the tasting. Check out the Granmonte website or contact them directly. Nikki and her family are extremely friendly and will do everything to ensure you have a great visit!

  2. Heading there today, and am now even more excited to go! Thanks for sharing!

    • I hope you enjoy it, Nikki and her family are great and the wines are delicious. Try the rose sparkling, very refreshing! Say hello to Nikki for me 🙂

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