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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hua Hin - Wine Tasting, Cozy Chat and Sight-seeing at Hua Hin Hills Vineyard

Ever thought of pairing wines with cozy chat during the afternoon? During our visit to Hua Hin, we decided to experience the different side of Thailand which most people would not associate the country with wine; a vineyard. We visited Hua Hin Hills Vineyard nestled in a scenic mountain valley 45 km west of Hua Hin i.e. the home of Monsoon Valley wines. It was a precious experience for us since we had not gone to any vineyard before. Today was also a special date for my travel partner as it was her birthday. At first, I was quite surprised that Thailand has vineyards as I thought most vineyards were only available in Australia and other Western Countries. Another remarkable vineyard in Thailand was located in Khao Yai which I hoped to visit this countryside years later.

Hua Hin Hills Vineyard is built on a former elephant corral, a sublime place where wild Asian elephants were domesticated. The whole terrain, mostly comprises of loamy-sand and slate, this place about 40-210 meters above sea level is great for cultivation of grapes providing the seaside resort town of Hua Hin with its first boutique vineyard.The vineyard tour package is available here including fresh grape juice, wine and snack pairing. Elephant ride to stroll along vineyard is offered here too. You could also opt for a guided tour through the vineyard to learn how vines grow in their tropical climate via a jeep tour which commence around 1pm and 4pm.

It was about 45 minutes drive from Sam Phan Nam Floating Market. Upon arrival, it was almost 1.30pm and we reached The Sala; a restaurant which located in a modern building facing the scenic views of vineyards. We were lucky to be seated as most informed that The Sala used to be full-house and prior booking was needed. However, most of the tables that faced the picturesque view of vineyards had been fully seated.
The scenic view of the vineyards from the Sala, a restaurant cum wine bar was breathtaking.

The menu of wine and tapas 

The Sala has a world map of wine producing countries and New Latitude wines are served here. 70 percent of its wine production are exported mostly to UK and about 20 per cent are sold locally in Thailand.

It was the 1st experience of wine tasting. We opted for the wine tasting set which came with 3 glasses of wines (75 ml) with 3 choices of accompanying foods costed us around 650 baht – 

  • Monsoon Valley Colombard with Chilled Crab Meat Apple Timbale
  • Monsoon Valley White Shiraz with Lobster with Frozen Red Curry
  • Monsoon Valley Shiraz with Smoked Duck Breast

We had Monsoon Valley Colombard paired with chilled crab meat and apple timbale, Monsoon Valley White Shiraz paired with lobster with frozen red curry and Monsoon Valley Shiraz paired with smoked duck breast.
Smooth wines that run through the throat without causing the choking feel.
Well, I had not much knowledge on wines, but it felt nice to be relaxed and enjoyed the view.

Take a sip of the red wine and forget the unhappy moments
Chill and Relax, birthday girl !
I felt glad to enjoyed the afternoon here, viewing the valley while sipping a nice glass of wine.
Overall, it's a pleasant experience of wine tasting pairing with tapas. However, the hygiene of The Sala needed improvement as flies were flying around after food were served. We had to cover our glass of wines with tissue papers to avoid flies dropping into the glasses. Indeed, there were lots of flies joining our meals session which two flies landed into our half-drank wines. The waiters did help to exchange new glasses of wines after the unpleasant dining experience.

The weather was still great when we finished our wine tasting, hence we decided to have a walk around the vineyard. The staff here was very friendly and they offered help to take photo for both of us. They even showed us the spots where we could get some nice photos.

With the elephant sculpture
Vineyard map which showed New Latitude Wine Trail
Transportation mode: by foot, elephant ride, rental bicycle
We opted for strolling along the trail by foot as we could drop by freely to take photos.
Elephant ride for vineyard tour.
The elephant looked quite pitiful and tired.
A big billboard which showed the vineyard map, introduction to Hua Hin Hills and Monsoon Valley Wines, Grape Varieties, Wine Grape Varities (White and Red), World Wine Map, Propagation, Technique and Soil as well as the annual operation cycle and harvesting. Harvesting month: March; hence it would be better to visit vineyard during January and March for better scenery. A wide range of grape varieties for palates excitation including Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and eating grapes.

The walk around the vineyard was not long due to the heavy downpour right after we took some photos. The service of Hua Hin Hills Vineyard was impressive as a minivan came to pick up the visitors who strolled along the vineyard. Otherwise we might have been waiting helplessly in the vineyard and got wet by rain.

Hua Hin Hills vineyard is unexpected for those who grow up thinking grapes only grow in temperate climate regions. Price-wise of the food with wines is on a high side yet it's a good opportunity for us to experience wine tasting as well as sight-seeing at vineyard. The atmosphere at Hua Hin Hills Vineyard is very relaxing and suitable to be included in itinerary for whom that need an escapade of busy lifestyle. It would be a more delighting experience if we came during harvesting season. Anyway, the hygiene of The Sala is much desired as nobody likes to dine together with flies partying around.