OUR GUIDE TO WINE TASTING IN MYANMAR
Wine lovers traveling to Myanmar might be surprised to find that there are only two vineyards to visit. Still, being able to say you’ve tasted the local wines of a nation who has only recently opened up its borders will be worth the experience. Few connoisseurs can say that they’ve sampled a glass of Rosé grown locally next to Inle lake. And the scenery is magnificent. So here’s a little guide to wine tasting in Myanmar to help you plan your next visit.
A Unique Climate For Wine
Starting a vineyard in Myanmar presents its own set of difficulties to overcome. For one thing, the tropical climate is not kind to grape cultivation. The heat can cause the grapes to burn and the humidity can cause certain fungi to overtake the crops. If that weren’t enough to compete with, Summer days are much shorter than they are in wine-friendlier countries. Monsoons are also a liability, potentially flooding vineyards.
Yet these adventurous vintners trudged through the rough terrain to cultivate wines as unique as their location. Myanmar 1st Vineyard produces over 300,000 bottles of their Aythaya wine every year. Of these, 85 percent are sold to local buyers while the rest makes their journey to foreign markets. Red Mountain Estate, the only other vineyard in Myanmar, is a similarly small operation but offers a wide assortment of reds and whites to choose from and a delicious menu of local cuisine to pair with your tastings.
Myanmar 1st Vineyard Estate
Myanmar 1st Vineyard is located near Inle lake in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State. The vineyard was founded in 1999 by Burt Morsbach. Morsbach was intent on bringing Western-style wines to Myanmar and imported 3,000 vines in 1998. There were plenty of potential risks in becoming Myanmar’s first winery, but this did not deter its founder. Morsbach continued to experiment with a variety of grapes and methods to acclimate to the region’s soil and climate. Of nearly 100 different varieties of grapes, 6 proved to be able to withstand the elements.
Today, Myanmar 1st Vineyard produces a wide variety of wines and several brandies. Here, tasters can sample their classic Aythaya Red Wine made up of 80% Shiraz, 10% Dornfelder and 10% Tempranillo grapes. Other varieties include the Monte Vino Red, Aythaya Sparkling Rosé, Shan Panya, and a Fruity Lychee brandy. You can also take home a BiB (Bag in a box) of any of their available wines.
For dining, the vineyard offers the Sunset Wine Garden Estate. Here you will find Shan regional delicacies such as fish in banana leaves and mutton balls cooked with Brussel sprouts. The cuisine combines local ingredients with Thai, Chinese, and European influences. Of course, the restaurant offers appropriate pairings of wine for every dish. The location also offers a spectacular view of the countryside and is well worth the trek.
Red Mountain Estate
Not far from Myanmar 1st Vineyard sits the Red Mountain Estate. Also located near Inle Lake, the Winery has been around since 2002 and began producing its first 1,000 bottles of red and white wine in 2006. The Red Mountain Estate was founded by vintner, Francois Raynal. Francois had traveled the world to produce wine in countries such as Hungary, Chile, and New Zealand. Bringing his vast knowledge to the region, Raynal was able to produce 120,000 bottles of wine in 2012.
Among the varieties of wine Red Mountain has to offer are Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and fortified wines such as the Red Tawny and White Muscat. The wines are said to have a taste distinctive to the region in which they were grown. With Raynal’s years of experience and his talented team, the Vineyard has expanded from its Taung Che location to Myay Phyu region.
As the name would imply, the estate is located in the North-Eastern mountainous area surrounding Inle Lake and offers a spectacular view. Visitors to the Red Mountain Restaurant can enjoy both Intha and local cuisine with dishes such as grilled chicken, Indian leek salad, and chicken potato curry. The restaurant gives visitors a chance to sample the perfect pairings of local wines with regional cuisine with a view that can’t be beat.
With most of the wine in Myanmar being imported from other countries, why not make it out to one of our local Vineyards for a tasting coupled with gorgeous scenery and a delicious meal. You can easily visit every one of Myanmar’s handful of wineries in a day and be able to tell your friends you’ve had authentic, domestically grown Myanmar wine. Who knows, with time perhaps other adventurous vintners will spring up in Myanmar. For now, enjoy the local flavors Myanmar has to offer.