Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Taking a walk in the vineyards on a sunny summer afternoon

So our trip to the cattle ranch was done and dusted. We had to quickly rush our way to the PB vineyard around 40km away, and we were lucky that we went early, because we had a real difficult time locating it.

It was quite hot, and there are usually no grapes to see during the summer, as all the grapes would have been harvested by the end of February, but we are determined to have a look anyway, and what a view we saw when we arrived. If it was a little cooler and we could have a glass of cold grape juice under one of those umbrellas, it would be one of the simplest yet most satisfying enjoyments of life.

Thailand is not the most well-known country for wine-making, but over the last decade or so, there have been many vineyards popping up in different regions of the country. The weird thing is, the government charges 60% duty if the wine is sold locally, so you could have the same Thai wine cheaper in another country than in Thailand itself. That's really spectacular, but I don't think it is doing any good to the local wine industry.

By the way, back to the winery tour.

One thing that impressed me most is the filters/sieves. The grape juice gets pressed through this entire row of European-made filters to ensure the wine is sparkling clear, clean of any bit of residue. Isn't it unbelievable, the work that they go through, there must be at least 20 layers!

Without going through the details of wine-making, which I probably have forgotten most of by now, I believe the picture above can show you the sheer size of the tanks in which the wine ferment in. This is no joke, it reminds me more of an oil refinery than a winery, ok, now I realise they sound almost the same.

Then the wines get to age in these oak barrels under a controlled low temperature to slowly develop their woody tones and make them yummy. I am no professional wine drinker myself, but I really am starting to develop a taste for them and I hope I can slowly become more sensitive to the subtle differences between different wines.
From an article on Bangkok Post, it says that Thailand is better known for the quality of its white wine, and true enough, after a round of wine tasting, Li Li and I decided on carrying a bottle of Chenin Blanc home. This was a real surprise to us as well, as we have always been supporters of the red breed.

Being here in summer gives us the perfect opportunity to have a look at the grapevines in 3 stages. The above, when it has just been harvested and completely trimmed. It looks great with the blue sky and mountain backdrop, grape or no grape.
Grape vines with a small amount of leaves sprouting out.
And last but not least, grapevines at their most luscious green.
The only thing missing now before we call it a good day is the grapes. Fortunately for us, PB Valley is considerate enough to grow some table grapes so that visitors who came from thousands of miles away can see real grapes hanging from the vines all year round, and for a cityboy like me, I was obviously excited to take a picture with Mr Bunch-of-Grapes.

Ok man, mission accomplished.
Now, I will open my beautiful bottle of clear white Chenin Blanc and savour my walk through the vineyard once again.....

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