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Winemaking as Feminism in Thailand

nikki_granmonte.jpgIt wasn't long ago that I learned about Thailand's nascent wine industry. I wish I had known about it back in 2001 when I was passing through. I would have loved to check it out. For now, I'll just have to imagine it in all its tropical splendor, in between the occasional news clip about it that pops up on my radar.

The latest news from Thailand's wine industry involves the story of Nikki Lohitnavy, who at 22 years old is Thailands youngest, and first female winemaker.

It's neat to see how the development of Lohitnavy's family as winegrowers echoes the progression of many families in other wine regions around the world. For years, the Lohitnavy family sold grapes to neighboring wineries, but then Lohitnavy decided to become a winemaker, and after getting a degree in Oenology from the University of Adelaide in Southern Australia, she returned to start a winery on her family's estate.

Lohitnavy is not only the winemaker, she's in charge of all the (male) employees of GranMonte winery, an uncommon position for a woman in Thailand, especially one so young. According to a story in the Singapore Straits Times, she's looking forward to proving that she can do the job better than any man.

"First of all women have better taste perception than men... and paying attention to small details, I think sometimes guys don't do that" she is quoted as saying.

More power to her, I say. Let the wine do the talking. I look forward to tasting her efforts someday.

Read the full story.

Comments (10)

Nick wrote:
08.11.09 at 6:09 AM

Nice as this story is, Thai wine certainly isn't! Thai wine at its best is vile plonk. The cheaper stuff is good for stripping paint or killing rampaging elephants. WIne making is an art that goes back centuries - it will take a few more centuries for our Thai sisters (and brothers) to learn what our French brothers have long forgotten.

08.11.09 at 6:54 AM

"First of all women have better taste perception than men... and paying attention to small details, I think sometimes guys don't do that" she is quoted as saying."

When I made wine at my small winery, I used to ask my wife to taste the wine and tell me if I'd gotten what I set out to get. My palate is good, but hers was always better.


Where did you get to taste Thai wine, and how long ago was it?

Alder wrote:
08.11.09 at 9:23 AM


That's a bummer. Thai wine sounds like it's about where Egyptian wine was 5 years ago when I visited. Nasty.

Dylan wrote:
08.11.09 at 12:41 PM

As expected from this blog, another interesting story related to the industry. I hope Ms.Lohitnavy maintains her spirit. It's difficult to have all eyes watching while you serve as the example of a progressive female. Then again, maybe that's what will drive her to success.

rs wrote:
08.17.09 at 12:11 PM

"she's looking forward to proving that she can do the job better than any man." I sure hope she's not appointed to the Supreme Court. They'll have a field day with that.

Nicci wrote:
08.28.09 at 10:08 AM

To be honest i think what Nikki is doing is something to be applauded and not to be put down. Besides, unless u have tasted GranMonte wines i think that it is unfair to make a gross generalisation regarding the wines of any region. Perhaps u could try the 2009 Chenin Blanc or even the 2006 Primavera Syrah which I believe won several awards aand was one of the wines served at the ASEAN Summit.

Christina wrote:
09.01.09 at 10:49 PM

I have lived in Thailand as an Aussie expat for the past 4-5 years and would have to say that Thai wine is the least desirable wine I have ever tasted. The country just doesn't have the land nor the climate for growing good grapes. Although I commend Nikki Lohitnavy - I think that that the Thai viticulture industry has a long way to go, and it may never reach a level of international competitiveness due to pure topography and climate alone.

noy wrote:
10.16.09 at 3:13 AM

Based on the changing climate and more and more fluctuation in weather pattern, Australia may lose the ground for some agricultural sectors. You will hear more and more rising wine regions in China and India.

Jean wrote:
12.03.09 at 9:55 PM

Nick, taste the wines first buddy, then comment.

Terry wrote:
10.18.10 at 11:13 PM

Sorry people - eat your words.
The wines produced by Nikki Lohitnavy have been awarded internationally and have stood the test at blind tastings. I was a sceptic for 20 years, now I am a believer. Thai wine has arrived.

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