China seems determined to create a new wine culture and developments are thick and fast on the ground. Considering that wine was not a player in China a decade ago the domestic wine industry has had to start from scratch.
The pace has been incredible – in the past few years China has developed its own wine schools, fine wine exchange, wine museums, wine theme parks and exhibitions.
The size and scale of these is jaw dropping. Wine tourism is big business and China’s flagship chateaux contain hotel complexes – some even have housing developments included in their grounds (see my blog The Great Chateaux of China?)
The latest venture is by the oldest, and one of the biggest, wine producers: Changyu Pioneer Wine Co. They have recently announced that they will establish a 413 hectare (1020 acre) international wine city, with an estimated investment of 6 billion yuan (£600 million) on the out skirts of their head quarters in Yantai.
It wil be home to a European-style village, a national vine and wine research institute, international wine trading centre, two chateaux: one for wine production (Chateau Tinlot) and one for brandy production (Chateau Koyac) and vineyards.
The wine city will also contain a ‘wine production’ centre covering 220,000 square metres. It will be equipped with 15 advanced production lines imported from Europe and is anticipated to be one of the world’s largest wine and brandy production plants, with an estimated annual production of 400,000 tons.
Changyu Pioneer Wine Co also announced it will seek more cooperation with the world’s leading wine producers under its Pioneer International Chateau Alliance project and establish 1,000 stores to sell the alliance’s wine across the nation in three years.
In 2009, Changyu teamed with four prominent chateaus in New Zealand, France and Italy to establish the alliance. Zhou Hongjiang, General Manager, has said that:
“Changyu will spare no effort to develop the alliance and look for more cooperation with prominent chateaus to provide consumers various wines from 18 major winemaking centers worldwide.”
The city is expected to be completed by 2016. Changyu Pioneer Wine Co has 3 other chateaux: Chateau Changyu-Castel – in Yantai, Chateau Changyu Afip Global in Beijing and the largest ice wine château in the world near Huanlong Lake in Liaoning province.
Three more are under construction: Chateau Changyu Baron Balboa in Xinjiang Uygur, Chateau Changyu Moser XV in Ningxia Hui and Chateau Changyu Reina in Shaanxi province, and are expected to open in the next six months.