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The beach resort is getting a fancy boutique vineyard

With glorious beaches and laid-back resorts, you might think Hua Hin has enough going for it, but the country's best beach-holiday destination is adding a boutique vineyard for wine buffs and thirsty travellers as well.
Siam Winery, the producer of Monsoon Valley wine and Spy Wine Cooler, is developing 1,000 rai with a small vineyard, wine shop, visitors centre and restaurant, says Siam Winery's director of business development, Kim Wachtatveitl.
Hua Hin might not be California's Napa Valley, let alone France's Bordeaux, but the region just off the Gulf of Thailand offers suitable soil and climate for grape growing.
At Baan Khork Chang, the planting of international grape varietals has already begun, and by 2007 it will not only have a boutique winery, but a visitor centre doubling as an educational facility.
The vineyard is 35 kilometres from Hua Hin Beach.
"Thailand is already famous around the world for its holiday destinations and food," says Wachtatveitl. "Now we're going to give the food and the places some nice company with Thai wine. In fact, Thailand is now at the point of being recognised as a serious emerging wine-producing country."
Made to match Thai dishes, Monsoon Valley is among the pioneer Thai wines on the international market. Siam Winery claims to have shipped 250,000 bottles of red, white and pink to England, Germany, Denmark and other European countries.
Unlike the Old World and New World of wine, where French and Australian wines dominate, Thai wines are regarded as a "New Latitude" offering, with a new, "soul-searching" character.
For Siam Winery, the boutique vineyard in Hua Hin will provide a tasteful twist to the beach holiday destination, as well as helping local wine buffs learn more about how the beverage marries the main course.
"There will be no shortcut for the wine industry in Thailand," says Wachtatveitl. "The winemakers and local wine drinkers will grow together.
"Once the vineyard and visitor centre are completed, we'll help our visitors, especially the locals, understand wine better. For example, a drinkable wine needn't be expensive."
It will take time before a whisky and beer fancying country like Thailand comes of age in the world of wine, he says.
Baan Khork Chang vineyard celebrated the first harvesting for Shiraz in February. The first vintage is expected to be uncorked at the opening vineyard's official opening in 2007.
Nation Apr 06 www.nationmultimedia.com

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