Unlike such icons as floating vegetable gardens, stilted wooden homes and Intha fishermen who propel their boats with a one-legged rowing style, Myanmar’s Inle Lake region isn’t famous for winemaking. Yet.
To give travellers a taste of Myanmar’s budding wine industry, Sanctum Inle Resort has launched its ‘Wheel and Wine: Cycling to Red Mountain Half-Day Tour’ by bicycle to Red Mountain Estate, situated nearby in the undulating hills overlooking the storied lake.
The journey through spectacular countryside skirting Inle Lake starts at the resort, situated on the lake’s banks. During the 40-minute ride to Red Mountain, guests pedal past sugar cane fields and through shady, sleepy villages including Maing Thauk, half of which is set on land while the other half sits on stilts over the water and is linked to the shore by a 400-metre wooden bridge.
After a short uphill stretch, cyclists reach scenic Red Mountain, home to 400,000 plants imported from France and Spain after experiments determining what grapes would grow best in the area’s soil and cooler climate. The estate produces a range of red, white, rose and fortified wines.
“‘Wheel and Wine’ is already proving to be a huge hit with our guests, who are surprised to learn there is winemaking in Myanmar and that it’s virtually on our doorstep,” said Philippe Arnaud, the resort’s general manager. “The vista that greets you at the estate reminds me of the Cape Wine route in South Africa. Red Mountain is ripe for exploration and its terrace affords a spectacular view of the lake best enjoyed at sunset.”
Opened in 2002, Red Mountain marks a collaboration between a local Pa-Oh and French vinter. Visitors are welcome to take a tour of the winemaking facilities before settling down at the hilltop restaurant for wine tasting.
Red Mountain is one of only two wineries in Myanmar, both located in the Inle Lake region.
Mr Arnaud said guests were free to undertake the tour either in the morning or afternoon, and could also cycle through nearby Nyaung Shwe, once the capital of a significant Shan kingdom known as the Saophas or “sky princes”.
The 94-room Sanctum Inle Resort is the first upscale hotel to come on line at Inle Lake and officially debuted October last year.
The ‘Wheel and Wine: Cycling to Red Mountain Half-Day Tour’ is free for guests at Sanctum Inle Resort and dependent on the availability of the resort’s bicycles. Guests are required to pay for any expenses incurred at Red Mountain.