Vineyards in Myanmar? They aren’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of this beautiful country, but sure enough they are there and they grow grapes that make a top notch drop!
Whilst staying near Inle Lake, we found out about a couple of local vineyards, one of which was accessible on our pushbikes – perfect! The hot sunny days, rain at certain times of year and critically a cool breeze blowing off the lake make the terrain around Inle ideal grape growing country and these vineyards are booming.
We went out to the Red Mountain Estate. Conveniently located about 5km out of town, it’s easily reachable by bike. As we got closer and closer I saw a beautiful red property UP on the hill…. All of a sudden cycling in Myanmar no longer reminded me of Holland! We turned into the drive and the road up hill to the bike park was littered with bikes from those who had given up and walked the last bit! I wanted to make it to the top so I could enjoy the ride down later!
Red Mountain started way back in 2002 with grape plants imported mainly from France but also Italy and Israel. It has gone from strength to strength and as we took a tour of the factory area, we were proudly told where all the equipment was from. The ‘bottler’ machine was Italian whilst the bottles and screws were Chinese (in Myanmar they seem proud to tell you an item is ‘made in china’!) and the labels were printed in Thailand. I’ve never been a wine expert so choosing a bottle by the label has been something I have done in the past! These labels would definitely catch my eye! These days I know what I like a bit more – age has made me appreciate wine more!
After our tour we took a seat overlooking the vineyards, Lake and neighbouring mountains. The sun was beginning to dip and the light just perfect for photos. However we had more important things to do – taste four wines! Our tasting glasses cost less than £1.50 and we sampled a Sauvignon Blanc, Shirraz-Tempranillo, Syrah Rose and a late Harvest sweet dessert wine. All of which were great.
As sunset beckoned we decided we better make sure we had a favourite and so had another glass of the Sauvignon Blanc. Always a favourite of mine this one was no exception. It was very fruity, smooth and frankly quite delicious!!!
Once the sun went down we breathed a sigh as we remembered we still had to cycle home… I’m not sure we cycled in quite such a straight line as the way there and fortunately it was more downhill on the way back, but we successfully negotiated all the cows, dogs, roadworks, people and cars on the way back! I kept having flashbacks to my cycling wine tour several years ago in Mendoza, Argentina.
Sadly Red Mountain don’t currently produce enough wine to export but I’m hoping one day they will as it will be top of my list! It’s definitely a name on the up after winning a ‘Best Chardonnay’ prize in an international wine competition in 2013. If you do see a Myanmar wine anywhere make sure you don’t overlook it. From what we saw the wine makers here are immensely proud of their drop, and a lot of care goes into making each and every bottle just perfect.