Dalat Wine Company in Lam Dong province is the number one producer of local Vietnamese wines. Dalat is located in the Central Highlands and this area has found much success due to its dry land and temperate climate. This particular province is also quite mountainous, which helps provide an atmosphere that allows viticulture, or the winemaking industry, to survive.
Ninh Thuan, not far from Dalat, in the South Central Highlands, is the second largest producer of local wine. This location is home to the 800 hectare Thien Thai Winery, the first commercial winery in Vietnam. Since their introduction from Australian winemakers in the 20th century, Cardinal, Chambourcin and Ribier grapes have been the most widely used due to their ability to thrive in the conditions of these regions. Dalat Wine Company also uses Phan Rang grapes, mulberries and other fruits for their fermentation process. Keep in mind however, that since this industry is just recently gaining momentum, these wineries are frequently testing new strains such as Black Queen, Italy, Red Star and the Patchong grape, as more variation is needed to produce wine bearing a taste suited for advanced palates.
Harvest First, Drink Later
From prune to harvest, the cropping cycle lasts about 85-95 days with a one-month rest in between, in order for the vines to restore themselves for the next season. The harvest circuit runs in four month cycles, which allows for about 3-3.5 harvests per year. New grapes are planted in December and January, at the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the dry season, and the best time for the premium harvest is in April and May.
Due to wear and tear, new vines are typically planted every ten years in order to ensure the quality of grape is appropriate for a good fermentation and a palatable final product. Throughout Vietnam there are currently only 12 wine grape varieties, but there is much interest in diversifying the market, as well as learning more from Western countries about the wine-making process and alternative kinds of grapes better suited for fine wine.
Outside of weather, there are several factors that determine when a grape is ready to be plucked for fermentation. The levels of sugar, acid and tannin must all be at the prime stage of development in order to generate a reputable wine. Although there is much to be learned about the complicated process of winemaking, Vietnam has been showing rapid growth and interest in improving their methods. The government and Ministry of Tourism have shown a desire to invest more into this industry as wine tourism is beginning to increase. Considering this, it is clear that the future for Vietnam’s wine industry is on the rise and we can look forward to being able to enjoy more local wines, but with a more refined and sophisticated taste.