Before my first drive to Khaoyai in 2009, I never knew vineyards existed in Bangkok. It was pleasant driving along rows of grapes then, and so I knew I had to bring N back to visit a winery in the area, and so I chose to re-visit Gran Monte. Khaoyai is suited for wine-making despite being in the tropics because the lower regions of Khaoyai are around 350m above sea level, with the average daily temperature throughout the year around 23°C, and Gran Monte is one the wine makers in the region successfully coaxing Chenin Blanc, Syrah and Viogner grapes.
According to Gran Monte, blending with its natural environment, the beautiful surroundings of Khao Yai has inspired the brand name “GranMonte”, which also translates as “big mountain”. They also pride ourselves on the use of organic farming techniques important in preserving our environmental surroundings, and also necessary for producing excellent quality grapes.
Entering the shopfront, you will be welcomed by all their local produce including organic vegetables, various jams, fruity body lotions and raisins. They have small tasting portions for all the possible food, so take your time to taste the freshness in all the foods.
Gran Monte also has a simple wine tasting menu of 4 wines for 150bht. But if you do end up purchasing any of the wines, then the tasting is waived. Try to get this lady below to do your tasting if you are a foreigner as her English is good (she just returned from Seattle after 40 years) and hence, able to explain the wines to English-speaking tourists better. She is also friendly, and will be able to tell you about good pastries in Khaoyai as her husband is a pastry chef. She also leads up to 10 tours/day during peak Nov-Jan season when the grapes are out in full glory on their vineyard so if you are into the whole wine-making process, will be good to join too.
Personally found all the wines lighter than the Old World wines; strong singular flavour as the founders’ daughter (more on her below) studied in Australia and learnt New WorldwWine making techniques. Good wines that taste unique to Khaoyai that we have not tasted in wines from other parts of the world. The Sakuna Rose is very favourite with a strawberry cream aftertaste! But I think this is from a female taste bud POV. Probably others would prefer the red or whites more.
Many of these wines have won international awards. And since these wines were up against many more established French, Australian wine makers, Gran Monte is very proud of their achievements. Gran Monte founders’ daughter, Ms Nikki Lohitnavy, who is only 26 this year, is Thailand’s first female oenologist. Quite remarkable achievements to win against the established big wine names at such a young age. Another inspirational female! 🙂
Various wines for the tasting
All in all, very enjoyable experience and I gained some knowledge on Thai wines. We ended up buying grape juices, olives, brown rice, wine, body lotion and raisins for our parents and friends! Plus the beautiful scenery at sunset when we stepped out of the shop rounded off a good visit.