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Raise a Glass to Aythaya Wine

The world of wine has a rich history. It is a cultural fingerprint in many countries that had influenced them both culturally and agriculturally. In most of the books telling the stories of wine, wine experts say that to taste wine is to taste the grape, soil of the land it has been grown and produced, season rain. Each wine has different level of dryness, softness, sweetness, influenced by the soil in the season grapes are grown. Those words are true, especially for wine experts or even those who so much like drinking wine.

I like wine, both drinking wine and reading stories about wine. There are many countries in this world producing wine, including boutique wine, for example Australia, France, Italy, Chili, Africa, or even in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, fruit wine of Vietnam or even rice wine of Laos, known as spirit.

When people think of Myanmar, wine is probably the last thing that springs to mind, but Bert Morsbach, CEO of Myanmar's premiere vineyard, is one of many ‘new-latitude' vintners who hope to change that.

Back in 1997, Morsbach founded his vineyard, Aythaya Wine, among Buddhist monasteries on the slopes of Aythaya's Taunggyi Mountains, and aimed to create a wine that could compete with the top vintners from the world's classic wine-producing countries.

Producing wine in a tropical climate is no mean feat, and Morsbach faced many challenges and obstacles. "Had I not been convinced that we could make a quality wine up in our mountains, I would not have started the project," he admits. And after two failed crop seasons, Aythaya Wine was finally able to present its first wine, the ‘Aythaya Red', at Yangon's Le Planteur Restaurant in December 2004. 

Aythaya wines are part of the "new latitude wines," which are created in places far from the traditional centers of Europe, California, Australia and South America. In terms of wine-making, countries like Brazil, India and Thailand hope to someday stand in pride next to France, Australia and Chile and Morsbach is one hopeful contender in the movement.

The German-born vintner plans to eventually retire in Myanmar, and sees the Aythaya Vineyard as a labor of love. As part of developing the surrounding area, the vineyard has renovated a local Buddhist orphanage, earning it the name the "orphanage vineyard." They are also currently in the process of expanding their tourist facilities, which already include five guest rooms, a restaurant and swimming pool.

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Exotissimo arranges tours to Aythaya Vineyard.

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Published on 5/22/07

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