Harvest Time at the Monsoon Valley Vineyard

Harvest Time at the Monsoon Valley Vineyard
Harvest Time at the Monsoon Valley Vineyard

The Hua Hin Hills Vineyard is no more; so charge your glasses to Monsoon Valley Vineyard, Hua Hin’s fine wining and dining experience in the perfect vineyard setting.

For more than ten years Monsoon Valley Wines have been producing awardwinning wines served in Thailand’s leading restaurants and five-star hotels and resorts.  The wonderful aromatics in Monsoon Valley Wines bring out the best in international, Thai or Asian dishes. But having a brand name differing to the name of the vineyard has been confusing and after consideration of the marketing and branding implications a decision was made to give the vineyard the name as the product. From March 1st, visitors will be welcomed to the Monsoon Valley Vineyard. Our visit on 20th February preceded that name change but coincided with the first day of the 2017 harvest season which concludes the end of March.

The harvesting of wine grapes is one of the most crucial steps in the process of winemaking. The time of harvest is determined primarily by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels with winemakers basing their decision to pick based on the style of wine they wish to produce. The weather can also shape the timetable of harvesting with the
threat of heat, rain, hail, and frost which can damage the grapes and bring about various vine diseases.  The Monsoon Valley viticulturist Kriansak Thorarit had a beaming face as he added lent his knowledge and discernment to the workers so they pick only healthy bunches and the gently handle the grapes; no mechanical harvesting here. It’s been a fantastic season with the unseasonal wet weather of January being a bonus to the grape growth.

This is an appreciated source of income for local villagers unlike many countries who may use migrant workers. Up to 70% of the employees in the  California wine  industry are immigrants from Mexico. I wonder if President Trump has considered this! Our host and tour guide Chiraphan Permsuwan welcomed us to join the first ‘From Grape to Glass’ experience of the season.
This is an opportunity to tour the vineyard, participate in grape-picking (free labour!) and even to join in the traditional ‘grape stomp’ turning grapes into juice in a wooden barrel and well, ……..’stomping’. It’s easy to see where the dance craze of that name associated with the surfing music from the 60’s got its name.

An alternative form of transport may be via ‘Somwang’ (water-chestnut) or ‘Fatty’ (no translation required), the two elephants at
the estate. They are aged 35 and 46 years of age respectively, perhaps middle-aged in human terms. This is a gentle swaying journey with hats provided if conditions require protection.

Driving to the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard should be a pleasant drive in the countryside. Around 40 kilometres from Hua Hin, you just need to follow the main route (No. 3219) towards Pala U Waterfall then turn off left after 30 kilometres. The route is well signposted and an easy cruise in the countryside. You can book harvest packages to include transport from the downtown bistro & wine cellar at the Villa Market, wine (and food) tasting, souvenir t-shirts, grape picking and stomping by phoning + (6681) 904 0555 or online at www.monsoonvalley. com. Fridays between 3 and 5.30 PM is the day to experience an even broader education about the cultivation of grape vines in Thailand.