The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has broken new ground in promoting wine tourism by organising the first familiarisation trip for a select group of French wine experts.
The TAT Paris Office invited Mr. Bernard Lauret, Governor of St Emilion, famous for its Bordeaux wines, to head a group of six senior executives from three French wineries to visit some of Thailand’s top-class vineyards and fruit orchards between 2-5 July, 2016.
Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, Executive Director of the TAT’s Europe, Africa and Middle East Region, said the trip was in line with the TAT’s strategic policy to penetrate the high-end market from Europe and build the image of Thailand as a Quality Tourism Destination. Wine tourism also supports the national government’s policy to better distribute income and revenue from tourism to the grassroots of society nationwide.
The French visitors witnessed grape-growing and wine-production techniques in three spots:
- The GranMonte Vineyard and winery (http://www.granmonte.com) on the outskirts of Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Ratchasima province.
- The Hua Hin Hills winery (http://www.huahinhills.com/) located 45 minutes’ drive from Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
- The Amphawa-Chaipattananurak Conservation Project (http://www.amphawanurak.com/), an important sustainable community development centre operated by the Chai Phattana Foundation, under Royal Patronage, in Samut Songkhram province.
Mr. Visooth Lohitnavy, founder of GranMonte Vineyard and Winery (right), and Mr. Karnchit Srinoppawan, chief of Khao Yai National Park, share the moments with the group from the French wineries .
They also visited fruit orchards and floating markets in Talat Nam Tha Kha and Talat Nam Bang Noi in Samut Songkram province. The visit concluded with a hot press medicinal herb massage, which is extremely popular with French visitors.
The trip was organised with the cooperation of M.R. Srichalerm Kanjanapoo, Director of Planning and Evaluation, Chaipattana Foundation, Mr. Chalerm Yoovidhya of the Siam Winery Company, Mr. Visooth Lohitnavy, founder of GranMonte Vineyard and Winery, and his daughter Ms. Visootha (Nikki) Lohitnavy, the first and so far the only Thai female winemaker who has been listed on the Forbes magazine website as one of the 30 top young leaders in Asia.
Officials of the Amphawa Floating Market also cooperated in the fam trip.
This first visit by the group of French wine-growers, organised during their annual dry season, will go a long way towards building the image of Thailand in a rapidly emerging niche market with high potential for future growth.
In 2004, the Thai Wine Association (TWA) (http://www.thaiwineassociation.com) was formed to promote and enhance the image of Thai wines in the domestic and international markets. The Association members are committed to upgrading quality standards and labeling requirements.
According to the Association’s website, Thai wines have been dubbed ‘New Latitude Wines’ as they have broken the barrier of 30-50° latitude north and south, which was long considered the geographical region perfect for wine-growing. Over the years, Thai wines have won more than 100 awards including Gold Medals at international wine competitions.
The TWA reports that Thai wineries crush around 1,000 tons of grapes yielding around 800,000 bottles of wine per annum. The range includes dry and sweet still wines, as well as sparkling wines made in the traditional method. Wineries are subjected to an independent assessment endorsed by the Department of Science Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.