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Thailand's tropical winemakers set out to rival Tuscany

'New latitude' labels are winning prizes, despite climate and soil issues

Winemaker Nikki Lohitnavy inspects vines at the family-owned GranMonte Asoke Valley winery, a roughly two-hour drive north of Bangkok. The area has evolved into a Thai version of Italy's Tuscany.   © Denis D. Gray

KHAO YAI, Thailand -- Nestled in a lush, humid valley where wild elephants come to snack among its banana groves, GranMonte may not be everyone's image of a classical vineyard. But its owners have set their sights high, aiming to challenge the world's finest vintages.

Energized and overhauled in recent years by Thailand's best-qualified and only female winemaker, the family-owned GranMonte Asoke Valley winery has already garnered a slew of awards in European and Asian competitions, and continues to experiment and innovate.

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