It was a hot, sunny day and I was three glasses into a wine tasting session. Against a backdrop of neat rows of green vines, waiters flitted from table to table, uncorking bottles. But the rainbow-hued gecko creeping up the wall behind me was a reminder that I was not in California’s Napa Valley or the rolling hills of Bordeaux. I was visiting a vineyard on the outskirts of Hua Hin, a coastal city 200 kilometres south of Bangkok.
It’s a three-hour drive from Thailand’s capital and we had left the city just after midday, the traffic soon starting to thin as we headed south, through rolling green hills and past locals selling colourful, flapping kites from roadside stalls.
One of our first stops was the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, where the grapes that produce Monsoon Valley Wines are grown. The brand was created by Chalerm Yoovidhya, the Thai chairman of Red Bull UK. And it’s more than just his hobby. The wines, which are available in the UK, have won countless accolades, including a gold at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards.
At this beautiful vineyard, the tracks which wind around the neat rows of vines can be explored by foot or on bikes, hired from the open-air visitor centre where there’s also a bar and restaurant. But with the mercury pushing 35˚C, we grabbed a spot on the terrace and acquainted ourselves with Monsoon Valley’s delicious wines over a plate of Thai seafood.
But you don’t have to be a wine lover to enjoy Hua Hin.