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.
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.
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.
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.
Planted Shiraz grapes at trial vineyard, Huay Sai Royal Research project, Prachuap Khiri Khan.
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.
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.
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.
Monsoon Valley Transformation (TBC)
Hua Hin rebrands as Monsoon Valley Vinyard.