When visiting a country, one must try the local tipple. With its many rice fields, ‘bia hoi’ and local brews, Vietnam is associated with beer and rice wine, not wine. But acres of lush vineyards can be found in a place few travellers are aware of, where viticulture is on the rise: Ninh Thuan, along the south-central coast. The province known for its beaches, Cham relics and the Nui Chua National Park is also home to wine farms that are open to the public for a pleasant, informative and tasty day out.
But indeed, is the country too hot and humid for wine-making? For the most part, it is. Yet there are cooler regions, including Ninh Thuan, with only 2 rainy and dry seasons all year round – a perfect land for vines to grow and develop.
Today, Ninh Thuan is the country’s largest grape producer, home to some 20-odd wine estates. Once ripe, wineries buy the grapes to age in Dalat. Other facilities in Ninh Thuan use them to process their own products such as jam, wine and honey.
In 2019, the Ninh Thuan Grape and Wine Festival was held in late April during the harvest time, it included vineyard excursions, a trade fair, ceremonies and contests for the ethnic minority groups there, a street festival and more.
But to experience the particular beauty of wandering vineyards yourself, any time of year, visit one of the many grape farms open to the public, for example:
One of the pioneers of grape-growing in the region is Mr. Nguyen Van Ba, owner of Ba Moi. His vineyards are open to tourists as well as farmers and scientists interested in grape cultivation. Over the years, ‘Uncle Ba Moi’ has experimented with several grape varieties, and he’s keen to share his passion for viticulture with his guests.
As you stroll through the stunning vines, he shares his knowledge about growing sweet-sour fruit without any chemical fertilisers or pesticides. If your visit is around harvest time, you can even get involved with sorting the grapes. You can also watch the farm workers as they clean and pound the grapes before sealing them away to age.
WHERE: Hiep Hoa Hamlet (about 7km from Phan Rang City), Phuoc Thuan, Ninh Phuoc District, Ninh Thuan Province.
One of the largest vineyards in the province - eagerly open their vineyards to the public as part of sustainable tourism in the region. An increasing number of tourists visit to sample their products, such as grape syrup and dried fruit, which they are always working on improving.
Since many families own grape fields here, each one is surrounded by a fence and has a little sign showing the plantation’s name. Stop at the tables and chairs set up for a fruity snack and some wine, and to learn more about the planting and harvesting process. On your way out, buy some products to take home. These include delicious raisins and restorative fruit syrups.
WHERE: Vinh Hai commune, Ninh Hai district (about 30km northeast of Phan Rang city).