The one thing we didn’t think we’d ever be doing during our stint in Thailand is visiting a vineyard. Who would have thought that here we are, sitting on a terrace enjoying the view and sipping away on some nice fresh wines in a local vineyard. Especially a vineyard as beautiful as the Hua Hin Hills vineyard, a 40 Klm trip up into the rolling hills that surround the town.
It may only be 40 Klms but we felt we’d been transported back to the Hunter Valley. It feels like a pleasantly hot summer’s day, low humidity and a gentle breeze blows across the valley.
We still had our trusty little scooter with us so first thing in the morning we headed out of town hoping to time our arrival for lunch. The road out is perfect for us novice riders, although after about 20 Klms the lack of padding on the scooter seat starts to make itself felt in the nether regions and we find a few “bum breaks” are called for.
After about an hour of dodging bumps we arrive at the vineyard to the surreal experience of feeling at home and yet there’s a twist, an elephant is plodding along through the vines!.
It seems the land is an old elephant corral, a place where wild elephants were once trained to be domesticated, they’ve kept a few elephants on and seem to think it’s a good idea to offer elephant rides through the vineyards as a nod to their past, we’re not so convinced.
They have nearly 80 hectares developed and grow all the usual suspects like Chen Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Shiraz. We’ve gone for the tasting flight of three of their best with lunch, or at least one of us has, the other has to get us back into town on the scooter and those clouds don’t look too friendly. So that’s one tasting flight and ( sob! ) one grape juice.
For those of us interested in architecture, the restaurant and tasting room gives us an idea of what modern Thai architecture can achieve, designed by a former Norman Foster employee it’s a blend of cutting edge materials and traditional pavilion styling. There’s the restaurant, a tasting room, and a shop all in the open air building.
It looks to be a pretty popular spot on the must do list of things in Hua Hin, plenty of locals and tourists browsing through the cellar door selections and picking up a few bottles to take home with them. In fact it must get so busy they’ve hired a security firm to control the car park, we do look a bit silly being waved around and around a nearly empty car park by two burly security guards while we’re two up on a little Honda.
The lunch menu is a very nice mix of modern Thai western classics with a Thai twist, we go for the daily specials, a tofu and black bean salad and a smoky grilled Thai beef salad.
The owners have put a lot of time and money into the venture and we hope it takes off for them, they have their 10th anniversary coming up soon with some pretty hot chefs pairing their wines with special menus. You can see more of the winery at their website here.
We just hope they can get those elephants doing some more suitable work. Grape stomping perhaps?.
All photos copyright Ross Duncan: firstname.lastname@example.org