Our Story

Legacy

Monsoon Valley was founded in 2001 by Chalerm Yoovidhya, a wine-loving entrepreneur with a vision to create a Thai wine culture. Upon returning from his studies abroad, Chalerm saw potential in growing grapes in his beloved native Thailand and set out to show the world that great wines can be crafted even at the 13th latitude of the northern hemisphere.

His first vineyard was at Tab Kwang, in beautiful Khao Yai, a region known as the 'traditional' grape-growing region of Thailand. Surrounded by national parks and jungle, the choice for this area was perfect as the fertile red soil and convenient climate conditions created the best platform for making opulent and rich Shiraz. After initial success in Tab Kwang, he explored other areas of Thailand that would give birth to great wines.

A new opportunity arose in 2003, when Khun Chalerm was invited to plant grapes at the Huay Sai Royal Research project, a trial vineyard located in Petchburi, which at that time was not viewed as a wine-growing region in Thailand. However, to his surprise, the quality of the grapes was very good, so he started searching for a plot of land large enough to grow grapes at a commercial level in the Hua Hin area.

He found the ideal spot in Baan Khork Chang, a pristine valley 35km away from sunny Hua Hin beach. The site was built on a former elephant corral, a sublime place where wild Asian elephants were once domesticated . This is where our flagship vineyard, Monsoon Valley Vineyard, is located today. Varietals such as Colombard and Chenin Blanc, Sangiovese, Rondo and Shiraz were found to thrive here. Added later were Muscat, Dornfelder, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc varietals.

Being close to the sea gives our Hua Hin vineyards an advantage as nights tend to be cooler with fresh breeze coming from the hills, whilst the sandy and loamy soil is enriched with shells and fossils giving minerality and freshness to the wines. The total area planted in Hua Hin is 700 RAI (110 hectar).

The remaining land is home of many indigenous plants and animals that Khun Chalerm is keen to cherish and foster as he believes that the balance of nature is key to crafting great and unique wines.

See Biodiversity

In 2013, Khun Chalerm ventured further North to Chiang Mai and planted a small vineyard to see if the climate conditions would generate further characteristic wine styles. In doing so, he continued his pioneering spirit, being one of the only people that believes in cultivating grapes in different locations within Thailand, giving wine lovers a choice of wines crafted in various areas that differ in character and style.

Together with a strong viticulture and winemaking team, he continues to explore and continue striving for excellence and crafting high quality Thai wines.

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How monsoon valley got its name

The monsoon season is a integral part to healthy crops in any tropical country. Thailand's monsoon season lasts from June to October, and is considered a life-giving period where farmers collect the waters from the monsoon rains and use during the dry season to cultivate their land.

Without this rain, there would be no agriculture possible in Thailand. The characteristic Naga and Monsoon Valley's label is the symbol of fertility and prosperity as the Naga is believed to bring the annual monsoon rains to our region.

What is tropical viticulture?

We often get the question: how it is possible to grow wine grapes in Thailand, a tropical country which doesn't have a four-season cycle such as traditional wine growing countries?

The answer to this is with perseverance and the ability to accept initial failures, everything is possible. In tropical climates, the plant is evergreen, which means it continues to grow without a winter's rest. That also means the plants carry very little grapes, as it would focus mainly on vegetative growth rather than reproductive growth, which is counterproductive if there is a need for grapes. Therefore one has to guide the plant and set the time for the production cycle.

In a tropical climate, one usually splits between rainy vs dry season. Locations chosen to grow grapes usually have a compact dry season which means in the past years, there was almost no rainfall detected during that period and very compact rainy seasons.

During the dry season (green color) which starts in Thailand around mid to end October, viticulturists plan their productive cycle, which will give them grapes. Considering the climate in Thailand, it takes around 120-130 days from pruning until fully matured grapes. The cycle usually starts when the monsoon rains end, which means pruning season starts and ends with the harvest season, usually from mid-February until mid-April.

During that time, water collected in the ponds from the Monsoon rains is used for irrigation. After harvest, with the onset of the rainy season, a new cycle begins and the plant is pruned again.

Since during the rainy season, it rains almost every day, it is impossible to produce high-quality grapes during that time. Any fruit set during this period will be cut out and the whole cycle will be only used as a vegetative growth giving the plant time to recover and rebuild strength for the coming productive dry season.

This method of two cycles/ one crop is intended to help the plants keep their natural balance, whilst guaranteeing only high quality grapes during the dry season.

The Monsoon Valley timeline

A chronological look at Monsoon Valley's history over the past two decades since it's inception.

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2002

2545 BE
  • Launched new branding and name changed to Monsoon Valley (Waterfall label), made from grapes grown at the floating vineyards, Samut Sakorn.
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2003

2546 BE
  • Started exports to USA, UK and Japan.
  • Monsoon Valley Colombard was selected to be an official wine served in APEC conference.
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2004

2547 BE

Planted Shiraz grapes at trial vineyard, Huay Sai Royal Research project, Prachuap Khiri Khan.

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2005

2548 BE

Planted grapes in Hua Hin Hills Vineyards. With its sandy loam soil and cool climate - the vines showed vigorous growth and good tasting fruit within a year, creating aromatic Monsoon Valley wines.

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2006

2549 BE

Bottling of Monsoon Valley Bin 9 Royal Reserve 2005; donated entire lot to HM King Bhumibol 60th ascension to the throne; used at functions in the palace.

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2007

2550 BE

New “Naga” label designed by Ou Baholyodhin (designer at Jim Thompson) depicting the spiritual and mystical naga, the bringer of monsoon rain and fertility to our vineyards.

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2008

2551 BE
  • New winery and facilities were purchased. Investment in new equipment to support the development of quality wine.
  • Kathrin Puff, winemaker from Germany joined the team.
  • Cuvee de Siam Rouge won Gold medal at Vienna Wine Challenge.
  • The Sala Restaurant grand opening at Monsoon Valley Vineyards
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2009

2552 BE
  • Winemaker Suppached Sasmosin joined the team
  • World-renowned wine critic Robert Parker tasted Monsoon Valley in BKK, commenting that: "Perhaps the biggest surprise was the 2008 Colombard from Monsoon Valley. This tasty offering had a resemblance to the wonderful Colombard that used to be made in Napa Valley by the owners of Chalone" “Genuinely interesting wine of surprisingly good quality” Lisa Perotti Brown – master of wine from USA
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2010

2553 BE
  • Cuvee de Siam Rouge receives first Gold medal at Austria Wine Challenge (AWC)
  • Launch of Monsoon Valley Flagship range: Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blancs, our first sparkling wine on the market.
  • Launched Monsoon Valley Cuvée de Siam Blanc and Cuvée de Siam rouge, highly regarded wine made from the healthiest and ripest grapes – with Tiger label from Thailand National artist, Thawan Dutchanee.
  • Created new Thai dining experiences with chefs McDang, Ian Kittichai, Bo and Dylan Jones, David Thompson.
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2011

2554 BE
  • Cuvee de Siam Blanc wins Gold Medal at Mundus Vini
  • Launch of Monsoon Valley Sparkling Extra Sec Rosé, a superb sparkling rosé
  • Dornfelder harvested at Monsoon Valley Vineyards for the first time
  • Continuing charitable dinners – joining the second annual fundraiser for Soi Cats and Dogs (SCAD) charity. Monsoon Valley was also the only Thai wine that partnered with Bangkok Chef Charity Gala Dinner.
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2012

2555 BE
  • We officially start our contract farming program, working with Thai farmers together to grow wine grapes
  • 10 years Anniversary of Monsoon Valley
  • 10 Chefs 10 Dinners
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2013

2556 BE
  • Late Harvest Chenin Blanc wins gold medal at Decanter World Wine Awareds (DWWA)
  • Monsoon Valley Vineyards starts growing experimental plots at our vineyard in Chiang Mai
  • Monsoon Valley 10th anniversary Guest Chef (5th – 10th) continue from 2012 (chef 1st -4th)
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2015

2558 BE
  • Monsoon Valley Chenin Blanc and Cuvee de Siam Rouge win Gold at Mundus Vini international wine awards
  • Late Harvest Chenin Blanc wins Gold medal at Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)
  • Jan Erik Wild joins viticulture team, dedicates his time to research and development of tropical viticulture
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2016

2559 BE

Monsoon Valley Transformation (TBC)

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2017

2560 BE

Hua Hin rebrands as Monsoon Valley Vinyard.