Above: Taking in Hua Hin Hills Vineyard from the back of Sombat, one of the estateâ€™s three elephants.
Returning to its roots, Hua Hin Hills Vineyard (66-81/701-8874; huahinhillsvineyard.com) is luring visitors not only with the promise of great grapes, but also gentle giants. Set on the site of a former elephant corral outside the Gulf of Thailand resort town of Hua Hin, 200 kilometers south of Bangkok, the boutique estate provides a picturesque setting for languid vineyard tours on the back of one of its three resident pachyderms. Pick up a bottle or two of house label Monsoon Valleyâ€”Chenin Blanc and Shiraz are among 20 varietals grown hereâ€”from the sleek on-site wine shop before climbing aboard your lumbering charge: we recommend Sombat, a docile bull elephant who was recently recruited by the vineyard following a larger-than-life career in Thai cinema. â€“Kris LeBoutillier
Originally appeared in the February/March 2009 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śGypsy Tales: Trunk Terroirâ€ť)