Ninety degree heat. Ninety percent humidity. Incredibly high precipitation. Flat, low altitude topology. Sounds like exactly the wrong place to grow grapes, right? Well apparently no one told the Thais that. And when we were talking about new wine regions to watch here last week, we certainly forgot to include Thailand.
Growing wine grapes in Thailand has to be done a bit differently than pretty much everywhere else, as you might expect, starting with the staggering fact that they actually get two crops of grapes per year without even trying(!). This incredible growth needs to be carefully checked through judicious pruning and dropping of fruit in order to get grapes that are ripe and well suited for winemaking. Of course, local varietals, Podkum and Malaga blanc, that can flourish in the heat and the particularly rich, loamy soil also have to be used.
Thailand has been growing wine grapes for some time, at least since 1994 (as a small entry in my ’94 edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine indicates), but apparently in the last 6 years interest and production has boomed to the point that we’re even starting to see some Thai wine in the United States. The Thais also seem to be focused particularly on making wine that goes well with their spicy food, which is great, and makes me want to try some.