The Road to Wine in Myanmar

Feb 2024

The road to wine in Myanmar all started with a smile. Relationships often begin this way, progressing slowly to adventures and new discoveries down the road.

The road to wine in Myanmar

24 hours before the smile appeared, I had been on an extra-long travel road from hell. Three packed economy class flights later, my arrival in Yangon was immediately followed by a full day of touring.

Sadly, my guide was preoccupied with her phone and had little interest in sharing this fascinating country with an exhausted and curious traveler. And, she coughed. Constantly. Spraying all who were within earshot. I hoped it wasn’t an indication of things to come.

Grumpy, and more than a little jet lagged, at day’s end I wanted nothing more than a cool glass of white wine.  Just a little something to lead me into sweet dreams and Miss Lilly White’s party.

Alas, I was in Myanmar for heaven’s sake. They don’t have wine in Myanmar. And then I met the SMILE

Outdoor cocktail bar in Yangon, Myanmar

Aú Contraire he whispered.  Actually, it was more like ဆန့်ကျင် ရန်, but you get the picture, and thus my temporary love affair with the Shan state vineyards began. Before I could close my eyes for the night, I made the decision to stop for a wine tasting on my way to Inle Lake. I was indeed on the road to wine in Myanmar.

Are you as surprised as I was to learn that it was a local wine behind the bar that night? I found the chilled liquid more than a little drinkable.

Entrance to Red Mountain Estate vineyards

Myanmar, also known as Burma, rests along the northeast coastline of the Bay of Bengal.

It’s a sovereign state rich in jade, oil, and other gems and natural resources. This is a country steeped in cultural diversity, which is widely expressed in local language, art, food… and wine. The area of Inle Lake and the infamous floating markets (my next stop) is renowned for its biodiversity and agricultural products.

The road to wine in Myanmar

Red Mountain Estate Time Line

Located near Inle Lake, Red Mountain Estate makes some of the top wines in the country. Their grapevines are specially crossed from plants that were originally imported from France, Israel and Spain, giving their local grapes the finest qualities of over 400,000 vines.

The final product is arguably one of the best you’ll drink locally. Nearby, visitors will also find Aythaya vineyard, Myanmar’s first wine producer.

This area of the Shan State is only a short drive from where I was staying on Inle Lake. Red Mountain is set in a picturesque landscape of rolling hills framed with bougainvillea.

Read more about exploring Inle Lake.

Wine in Myanmar view of vineyards

The first step for Red Mountain was to hire a winemaker. In 2002 Francois Raynal joined the team; winery equipment from Italy was purchased, and Taunggyi was chosen as the site for the vineyard and winery.

Importation and planting commenced in 2003 and continued through 2007. Over the years the vineyard had to be expanded to accommodate the many vines and finally in 2006 the first 1,000 bottles of wine were produced.

In 2020 a new cold storage was constructed to follow standards in the wine industry. In addition, Australian wine make Darren Gall joined the production team. Today the brand continues to move forward with a range of unique wines.

Great care has been taken to cultivate very specific types of grape and to this day, visiting Red Mountain Estate is a must for oenophiles wanting to taste the wine in Myanmar. The vineyard now has several shops in the Mandalay area.

Wine in Myanmar-local tasting

Selection of Myanmar Wines

As any aficionado can tell you, there are many types of wine. Red Mountain Estate keeps it simple. They offer 9 varieties of white, red and fortified wines. When you visit the vineyard you can participate in a tasting and take a tour of the landscape.

Their red wines consist of shiraz tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, syrah reserve and pinot noir. If you prefer white wines, you can try the sauvignon blanc, a dry and crisp offering. The Moscato is a semi-sweet, late harvest made from muscat petits grains. They no longer make a sparkling wine.

During the tasting, I had the opportunity to sample some of the local cuisine, simple dishes made with fresh ingredients, and the perfect accompaniment to the wine we tasted.


Local dish at Red Mountain Estate winery

The Importance of Living Local 

Travelers are starting to realize that to truly experience a place they prefer to have a more local experience. Many are passing on the typical tourist attractions and generic hotels and are learning that by renting a residential room or home they get to see a completely different aspect of a city or country.

Just like individual people, communities of residents have more than one side. There’s the projection of self you want others to see or perceive – and there’s the “real you”. When you visit a new place, try to think in terms of that concept. Wine lovers do you want the projected “face” of a people aimed at tourists or do you want the real thing?

selection of wine bottles on tray

Chances are, you will opt for experiencing the true nature of the culture. Eating local food and drinking local wine is a great way to do that. It helps the local economy and keeps a community sustainable. There is so much hard work and “labor of love” that goes into keeping it local, you can’t help but notice unique nuances and characteristics that just can’t be found anywhere else.

The road to wine in Myanmar Women picking grapes in traditional baskets red mountain

Grape picking in Myanmar. Photo via Red Mountain Estate Winery

Terroir and Responsible Travel

Red Mountain Estate is a perfect example of this; entire teams of people pour themselves into every bottle of wine, insuring notes of local flavor and terrior you simply will not find in another part of the world.

The next time you find yourself in a new place – whether it’s on the other side of the globe or just across the nearest state border, do yourself a favor and skip the chain restaurants. Make a point to visit the nearest vineyard, brewery or eatery for a tasting and sample two or three things from the menu. Find out what grows locally or the regional speciality before you visit and seek it out.

Red Mountain Estate chardonnay

You don’t necessarily have to sit and chat with other patrons (though that’s a great way to learn where the best places are to visit) or completely immerse yourself in their culture – but do eat the food and drink the drink. Get to know the “real” side of a place and experience what local has to offer. Your horizons will be broader and an inner appreciation of a destination will surely be the result. You just never know where the smile can take you.


Pin Me Image – Wine In Myanmar

Keeping it local with wine in Myanmar

Photo credit: Feature and photo of women in vineyard via Red Mountain Estates.

This post was originally published in May 2016 and was updated on February 13, 2024 to include current information. 

  1. Janice Chung says:

    LOVED the beginning of your post. I would have wanted bottleS of wine after encountering that tour guide. Had no idea Myanmar had a wine industry.

  2. jane says:

    We were a fan of Red Mountain wines, too, when we visited Myanmar last year! Never did the wine tour, though, just sampled the product. Love your shots, especially of the Pa’o ladies.

  3. Donna Janke says:

    I had no idea there were wineries in Myanmar. Red Mountain Estate looks beautiful – so green and hilly.

  4. Wonderful to hear about Red Mountain Estate and the great wines they produce! With the climate, it makes sense that Myanmar should be able to make a good wine. The girls with the turbans and baskets of grapes are so sweet!

  5. Your visit didn’t start of well in Myanmar with the coughing guide and the stressful shedule. Good that it turned out to be enjoyable to explore the country. It’s a pleasure to read your post!