The Sarapee Winery is a boutique winery occupying only 12 rai
of land. While its size is modest, its wine is becoming good table fare. The
Dining Out Team went on a reconnaissance mission to Sarapee, and learned more
about making wine in the tropics than we could imagine. Owner Diether Geidt
provided an overview of the vineyards and wine making processes while his wife,
Alema Greis, prepared a delightful meal that can only be described as “down
home” food, tasty and hearty. Both delighted us.
The family has been experimenting with grape vines for 12
years. The vines are grown under protective plastic greenhouses, preventing the
development and transmission of fungi as well as infestations of insects.
Several vines are grown outside of the protective environment for demonstration
purposes, and these unlucky vines displayed plant diseases as well as some fat
worms that were quickly chewing their way through the leaves. Only organic
fertilizer is used at the vineyard, and a fraction of the usual chemicals
controls diseases and pests. Diether comments that the plastic is not beautiful,
but is effective. We vote for “effective” any day over the abundant use of
chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides.
We went inside where the wine is made. The bouquet was
heavenly. The grapes are hand-picked, sorted individually, and pressed. The wine
is aged in stainless steel vats imported from Italy. Bottling, corking and
labeling is all done by hand. This is truly a boutique operation, employing only
about six people, and the benefits of that individual attention are evident in
the product. Five red wines and one white wine are presently produced at the
vineyards. They range in price from 480 to 850 baht per bottle.
Alema called, and dinner was served. The restaurant is only a
few steps from the vineyard, and there are both open air and air-conditioned
rooms. The d้cor is simple, and features beautiful art from all over
Southeast Asia. We were particularly drawn to a highly detailed piece from Bali.
“Down home” is not an expression intended to in any way
detract from the tastiness of the food served at the Sarapee Winery. It simply
means that we all enjoyed it, and were relaxed eating it. It was clearly comfort
food to all of us. An assortment of cheese and dark bread was served along with
a plate of smoke meat and sausage arrived. Then followed grilled sausages,
potatoes pan fried with onions, cabbage, carrots and green beans heaped on one
plate. An unusual and delicious cooked carrot salad arrived. We loved it. Then
came chicken stewed fork-tender, lasagna, and spaghetti with meat sauce. A
breaded, fried pork chop was served with fresh hot vegetables. This is very
affordable food, starting at about 95 baht and going up to less than 200 baht
Diether stayed with us throughout the meal, and I would
recommend that you ask him to do the same should you have a meal and wine
tasting at the Sarapee Winery. He recommended wines for each dish, uncorked and
served them. He described them and we discussed each as we dined. We learned
about his relationship with other vintners in northern Thailand, how they
support each other and learn from each other. We found out that his father in
law owns about two hundred acres of land in Chiang Rai, and that the family is
experimenting with grape vines there. Every type of soil, every altitude
produces a different tasting grape. We wish Diether and Alema great good fortune
in their venture. Telephone and make reservations for your own private wine
tasting and dinner. Enjoy.
Sarapee Winery, A. Sarapee, Chiang Mai 50140, 04-803-1977 or fax:
053-968-029. Drive past the Sheraton Hotel out the Old Chiang Mai–Lamphun
Road. About 3.5 miles past the intersection of the Superhighway and the Old
CM-Lamphun Road, turn right at the second stoplight, just over a bridge. Pass
two schools on the right, a petrol station on the left, and turn left
immediately after the crematorium on the left. There you will see a small red
and white sign that says “Sarapee Winery”. Follow the signs. Turn right into
the Geidt Export Company compound, and – voila! – Sarapee Winery.