Asia is perhaps one of the most underrated wine-growing regions in the world. There are several wineries across the Asian continent producing wine that competes at the highest level. From India to China, we look at Asia’s wine-growing heritage and some of the sumptuous wines produced on the continent.
1. Sula Vineyards – India
Dubbed the “Napa Valley of India,” Sula Vineyards was established in 1999 by Rajeev Samant after he discovered the vast potential of his family’s land in Nashik, India (not far from Mumbai), a region renowned for producing high-quality table grapes. Boasting incredibly fertile volcanic soil, the area has significant regional variations in terroir, from heavy clay earth to weathered basalt. Nashik’s temperate climate makes it the perfect environment for viniculture. Sula Vineyards produces whites, reds, rosés, and sparkling wines.
Enveloped by nature, this enthralling winery is an ideal picnic spot. Visitors can also partake in winery tours, tasting sessions, and gourmet dining. Sula Vineyards has been recognized with a variety of coveted industry awards, including a Gold Award for its Chenin Blanc 2019 from the India Wine Awards; a Silver Medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2020 for its Dindori Reserve Viognier; and 90 Points for its Shula Shiraz 2019 in Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 Best Buying Guide.
2. Banan Winery – Cambodia
Located 12 kilometers from Battambang, Cambodia, on the banks of the Sangkar River, Banan Winery grew from vines introduced from France. Today it encompasses eight hectares of land.
Named after the nearby Banan temple, the winery was established in 1999 by Leng Chan Tol and her husband, Chan Thai Chhoung, who taught himself to make wine by reading books translated from French to Khmer and reaching out to experts for advice. By 2004, the couple had managed to bottle their first batch of wines. Today, Banan Winery produces 10,000 bottles of their Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon blend annually, along with the smooth, golden Phnom Banon Brandy.
3. Changyu Pioneer Wine Company – China
It may surprise you to learn that China has more grape-growing acreage than France. In fact, the country ranks as the world’s sixth-largest wine-consuming nation and the seventh-largest wine producer today. Some of the world’s most prestigious wineries, including Château Lafite-Rothschild, have invested in China’s up-and-coming viniculture industry.
Founded in 1892, Changyu Pioneer Wine Company plants its vineyards with vine cuttings imported from France. Today, Changyu covers 35,000 hectares of China’s best wine-growing regions, including parts of Yinjiang, Liaoning, Ningxia, and the Penglai peninsula. Incorporating eight chateaux, including Yantai Chateau Changyu-Castel, the Changyu Pioneer Wine Company operates China’s oldest and largest professional international winery.
4. Hatten Wines – Indonesia
World famous for its ripe, fruity rosés, Hatten Wines has been producing award-winning wines on the island of Bali since 1994. This family-owned vineyard aims to produce quality wines that complement Indonesia’s spicy food and tropical climate.
Guided by esteemed Australian winemaker James Kalleske, Hatten Wines’ portfolio has expanded over more than 20 years of experimentation, adjustments, and reinvention. Today, Hatten Wines has a solid international reputation, crystalizing its position as one of the main players in the Asian winemaking market when it claimed the Asian Wine Review’s 2017 Winery of the Year Award.
5. Monsoon Valley – Thailand
Occupying 560 rolling acres, the Monsoon Valley estate is located near Thailand’s border with Burma, offering fantastic views across the lush green Hua Hin hills.
Monsoon Valley was founded by wine-loving entrepreneur Chalerm Yoovidhya in 2001 as part of his vision to inspire a Thai wine culture. After returning from studies abroad, Yoovidhya recognized the potential of establishing a vineyard in his beloved native Thailand. After creating his first vineyard in Khao Yai, an area of Thailand with a long history of grape-growing, Yoovidhya realized that the area’s rich, fertile soil and climate conditions were perfectly suited to producing Shiraz. Following his initial success in Khao Yai, Yoovidhya started exploring other areas of Thailand that showed potential for producing great wines.
Lasting from June to October, the monsoon season is when farmers collect water to sustain them through the dry season. It is considered a life-giving period in Thai folklore, as without the rain, no agriculture would be possible in Thailand. Monsoon Valley’s characteristic label symbolizes the fertility and prosperity the monsoon rains bring to the region.
6. Red Mountain Estate – Myanmar
Situated in Myanmar’s Southern Shan State, Red Mountain was established in 2003, when its founder imported 400,000 vines from Spain, France, and Israel. The Red Mountain Estate started production in 2007 and releases more than 16,000 cases of wine a year, from reds like Malbec, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon to whites like Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay.
Myanmar’s only winery, Red Mountain is a popular stop for tourists visiting Inle Lake. They often negotiate the 30-minute journey by bicycle, although tuk-tuks are also available.