Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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South East Asian country where viticulture began in the 1960s on the low plain around the capital Bangkok and has flourished, despite the challenges involved in tropical viticulture. Although the early vineyards were developed to produce table grapes, the main varieties planted were vinifera, including malaga blanc, muscat of hamburg, Perlette, cardinal, and pokdum. A total of around 5,000 ha/12,350 acres of vines had been planted by 2013.

In the mid 1980s, grapes from these vineyards became the raw material for a popular wine cooler (called Spy) produced by the Siam Winery, a venture established by the man who devised the energy drink Red Bull. A more conventional winemaking operation, Château de Loei, based on mainstream wine grape varieties (principally Chenin Blanc and Syrah) began in 1991 in the cooler Phurua Highland district in north-east Thailand (at 600–800 m/1,970–2,635 ft) along the Loei River, close to the border with Laos. A third frontier was forged in the mid 1990s by an offshoot of the giant Boon Rawd Corporation, brewer of Singha beer, with trial plantings of 50 wine grape varieties in the highlands around the Khao Yai National Park north of Bangkok. Chenin Blanc and Syrah also performed well here, forming the backbone of the premium wines released by the founding winery, PB Valley, and by Chateau des Brumes, GranMonte Estate, and Alcidini that have followed PB Valley. Other varieties for which expectations are high in this region include Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, and Dornfelder.