I love Thailand for its variety but I never knew before that it already has an established wine industry. When we talk about wine growing we don’t usually think about Thailand mainly due to the hot and humid climate. But, Thailand has in fact three distinct regions of wine making. In the north there is Chateau de Loei, in the Phu Rua Valley of Loei Province and Chateau Shala One, in Phichit Province. The second region is the Khao Yai area of Nakhorn Ratchasima Province. Here you can find the vineyards of PB Valley, GranMonte and Chateau des Brumes. The third region is in the Chao Phraya delta. Here you can find Siam Winery south west of Bangkok. The first vines were planted at Chateau de Loei in 1991. This was followed closely by the more famous PB Winery in Khao Yai. These days they are so well known that the whole area is called PB Valley Khao Yai Winery. Most wineries encourage visits and tours. I was happy recently to visit PB Khao Yai Winery.
Khao Yai is the home to the largest wine producing region in Thailand. As well as the three main wineries, they are also many small independent farmers who sell their crops to the wineries. As you may know, wine sold in Thailand is not cheap. There is a 400% excise tax imposed on all wine sold within Thailand. As a consequence, the wineries in Thailand faced an uphill battle right from the start. They also faced a bias against drinking wine with traditional Thai food. Instead of going for quantity, many of the wineries instead decided to go for quality. They also managed to adapt the wine so that it was suitable to eat with spicy food. During the 1990′s, PB Khao Yai Winery planted 50 different species of grapes until they found their vintage in 1999. The Khao Yai Reserve Shiraz 2000 was served to world leaders at the APEC meeting in Bangkok. Since 2002, PB wine has been served on all Thai Airways international flights. A mark of their considerable success in this industry.
PB Valley is on the western edge of the Khao Yai National Park. The winery covers an area of 800 acres. As well as the vineyards, PB Khao Yai Winery also have a restaurant and are building luxurious guesthouses and spas on their property. The cooler climate and low humidity are ideal for people taking a weekend break from Bangkok. You can come and visit the winery at any time of the year but there is more activity going on during their yearly harvest during February and March. The estate is open between 8.00 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. Entrance is free. You can join various tours that will take you through the vineyards to the winery. Here you are shown the wine-making process and there is an opportunity to taste some wine for yourself. The most expensive tours cost 700 baht for adults and they include a set lunch or dinner. Wine, of course, is also served during the meal and is included in the price. The basic one hour tour will set you back 200 baht. Tours are more regular at the weekend but it is best to ring in advance to check for times of tours. Their number is 036226415-16.
PB Valley is only 90 minutes or so from Bangkok in the Pak Chong District of Khao Yai. Bilingual signs will help you find the vineyard. There is no public transport to the winery. If you don’t have your own car then you could hire a Bangkok taxi for about 1,200 baht for the day. It is best to combine a visit to the winery with another nearby attraction such as Farm Chokchai. Or you could stop here either on the way to or return from Khorat, the gateway to the North-eastern region of Thailand. I wish to thank the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for organizing our tour and for PB Valley for being such kind hosts. For more information about what to do in Nakhon Ratchasima Province please visit our www.ThailandGuidebook.com website. Also check out blog.bangkok-daytrips.com for many ideas for excursions and daytrips around Bangkok.