Vine to Bottle
The Chinese are well-known for their fondness of a French tipple or two, importing fine wine by the barrel-load, and in particular vintages such as first-growth Château Lafite. But what may come as a surprise to some is that China now also bottles its very own homegrown wine, and attention, oenophiles – it’s rather good! Admittedly, it was challenging to find Chinese wines of any real quality in the early 2000s because fashionable grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère dominated plantings and resulted in under-ripe and over-oaked wines, but by about 2010 a small elite of patiently-crafted, Chinese-grown wines had finally emerged.
So what better time to visit these vineyards than with the China Culture Center who offer vineyard and winery visits to Huailai, Hebei province, just 130 km northwest of Beijing (on the same latitude as Bordeaux and California, don’t you know), boasting fertile soil and a perfect climate for grape planting. The next outing takes place on October 12th (reservation recommended) and includes tours of both a large-scale winery with expansive cellars, and a beautiful European-style chateau producing only high-end wines, together with an English-speaking guide, transportation and lunch. Meet the winemakers, learn the winemaking processes, and most importantly, sample the produce! Cheers, dears!