From The Northwest To The Far East

Posted in Blog, Wine on Tuesday, April 09, 2024

How have Washington’s world-famous wines gotten to Vietnam? The process has taken 10 years.

From The Northwest To The Far East

In a cozy, wood-walled wine store in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, bottles of imported Washington-grown wines line the shelves, and owner Ngoc Dinh smiles as she slowly pours a glass of merlot from a bottle wrapped with a white cloth napkin.

“I’ve been working with wine since I was young — very young,” she says, adding that she entered the wine business more than 30 years ago. Dinh is the owner of Phú & Em Group, a food and beverage importer and distributor in Vietnam that she operates with her two sons.

While beer is still Vietnam’s most popular alcoholic beverage by far, wine is growing in popularity, and Dinh’s son Tran Thanh Sang credits her for being one of the first people to import wine to the country.

“Before 1992 in Vietnam, they didn’t know anything about wine,” Sang said. “My mom was the first lady importing wine to Vietnam. I’m really proud of my mom.”

Washington wines are becoming more popular internationally, and in 2021, wineries in the state exported wine to more than 60 countries, according to the Washington State Wine Commission. Sang enjoys that Vietnamese people are just beginning to learn about Washington wine, and he is glad Phú & Em can introduce them to it.

“Ten years ago nobody knew about Washington wine,” he said. “When they talked about American wine, they just talked about Napa Valley.”

That is clearly changing. Jean-Bernard Baudron, Phú & Em’s French sommelier wine specialist, points to a bottle of sparkling Brut wine imported from Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington. “I love this wine very much, especially this brand.”

He pours a flute of the bubbling liquid and holds it up to the light.

“Talking is good, but tasting is much better,” he says, taking a sip.

He notes the drink’s pale yellow color and small bubbles, which are a sign of a high-quality sparkling wine. “Very fresh, very citrusy — green apple, a lot of freshness,” he said. “Very nice texture. The bubbles are creamy; it’s very smooth.”

Washington’s long summer days and cool nights, its varied climate across the state, and its unique soil make it an ideal grape-growing location, and it shows in the wine.

“Washington state is producing very amazing, good wine, thanks to the climate,” said Baudron, “which gives a lot of freshness, a lot of elegance to the wine.”

From Washington vineyards to a tiny wine store nestled in Vietnam’s most populated city, wine lovers worldwide seem to agree.

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