Once known as Siam, Thailand is located in South East Asia at the heart of the Indochina Peninsula with Malaysia to its South, Myanmar to its West, Laos to its East and Cambodia to its South-East. Thailand is certainly not a well known wine producing country, and many people are surprised to discover that wine is made here at all, however, vineyards were being planted in Thailand as long ago as the 1960s although they were originally designated for the production of table grapes.
Over the last forty or so years, more vinifera wine varieties have also been grown despite the belief that their cultivation could never prove successful since the tropical climate enjoyed by Thailand would mean that fungal diseases and rot would flourish in the humidity and heat which is found here. Another supposedly insurmountable problem lay in the lack of diurnal temperature variations, which was also believed to be an insurmountable challenge to the possibility of any high quality wines being produced. Yet, despite the fact that these elements remain present, technology and adaptations carried out to winegrowing techniques have meant that the negative effects that these elements have caused have now been minimized.
There are many different grape varieties planted in Thai vineyards, but by far the most commonly seen is the table grape from southern France, Malaga Blanc. This grape is believed to have come to Thailand back in the 1600s, having been given as a gift from a French diplomat to the king. Since the 1970s, Cardinal and Black Muscat have been used in the production of Thai wines and more recently, other varieties which have been propagated locally including Pokdum have joined them. Some international varieties of grapes including Shiraz and Chenin Blanc have also been successfully grown here and trials of growing Sauvignon Blanc and Tempranillo are also under way.