For those of you living in Hua Hin a decade ago, you’ll know there were just a couple of places selling what was a fairly limited, not to mention expensive, variety of wine.
Fast forward to today and there are some really interesting things happening in Hua Hin in relation to wine.
From growing and cultivating to tasting and pairing – this place is becoming a hub of all things wine.
And don’t even think about rolling your eyes at the use of the word “hub”.
We’ll be the first to coin it – there’s a wine scene in Hua Hin and it is really growing.
And the best thing about Hua Hin’s wine scene is that such a broad range of people are enjoying it.
From connoisseurs and seasoned wine lovers to complete newbies who are just exploring different wines for the first time, there’s something for everyone and all budgets.
From just a handful of wine outlets, there are now over 20 wine retailers in Hua Hin.
As the town toasts to outlets like Italasia, Wine Bubble and Berry, and EU Wine, these and many of the others, offer an eclectic array of global wines.
Even supermarket chain Tops has inaugurated a dedicated wine outlet, catering to the burgeoning demand. Adding to this evolution is Monsoon Valley, the local vineyard, which has made strides in producing quality Thai wines.
Hua Hin Today recently sat down with Thierry Berno, the branch manager at Italasia Hua Hin, who is experiencing Hua Hin’s wine explosion first hand.
“My journey into the wine industry began in France, influenced by my father and driven by curiosity about the varying price ranges,” said Thierry. After stints in Korea and later Thailand’s hospitality sector, he returned to his passion – wines.
Noting the evolution in Hua Hin’s wine culture, Thierry highlighted data trends that show the town gradually embracing higher quality wines. “While the market in Hua Hin is price-sensitive, there’s been a definite shift toward better quality wine over the years,” he observed.
For the curious, Primitivo seems to be the crowd-pleaser, but it’s the unbiased nature of Thai wine consumers that stands out. “Thai buyers don’t hold regional biases. If they think a wine from Chile or Argentina is good, they go for it. It’s a refreshing perspective compared to some European buyers who can be more particular about origin,” Thierry added.
Hua Hin’s residents have displayed varying tastes, gravitating towards Primitivo for its easy-drinking attributes and Veneto wines, which can pack more of a punch.
Thierry further shed light on the evolving tastes, highlighting the popularity of Pinot Grigio and the changing perspectives on Chardonnay.
But what’s the future for Hua Hin’s burgeoning wine scene?
Thierry nods enthusiastically to more collaborative wine-tasting events.
“We aim to partner with our local restaurants to craft enriching experiences,” he revealed.
“Because, at the end of the day, it’s all about the experience.”
A parallel narrative emerging alongside the wine trend is the growth of the town’s hospitality scene.
“The wine and hospitality industries are deeply intertwined,” Thierry points out.
“Restaurants like Little Spain and Prime (and there are plenty of others) have elevated the dining experience in Hua Hin, driving the demand for fine wines.”
“People in Hua Hin now prioritize the experience,” he stated, emphasizing the integral role of restaurants in enriching these wine experiences.”
“The wine scene cannot grow without the hospitality scene. Most of the time, hospitality leads, and wine naturally follows,” he explained, reflecting on the growth in Hua Hin’s hospitality offerings.
For newcomers eager to navigate Hua Hin’s wine landscape, Thierry’s advice is straightforward: trust the professionals.
“There’s so many shops now in Hua Hin selling a wide range of wines. I think most of those shops are going to have a professional person in there to recommend wine, so if you are a beginner just follow their recommendations. Go and just tell them more or less what you’re looking for and let them surprise you a little bit.”