Guest post by Shelley Seale
China has begun an exciting love affair with wine, and vineyards are springing up as European investors have poured more than 150 million Euros into the effort. The Chinese are now the largest consumers of wine, and the winemakers here are the world’s 7th largest producer of grape wines. Yantai, a region that lies on the Yellow Sea in the northeast, is the prime wine region of China. European investors have put more than 150 million Euros into vineyards here. There are several large wineries open for visitors, with cellar tours and tasting rooms; it’s an extremely interesting and unexpected side trip to take them in.
Vineyards such as Chateu Junding and Changyu are clearly modeled after a European style, and strive hard to offer expected Western amenities such as golf, spa services, five-star gourmet dining and chateau lodging. The result is a strangely charming, and often amusing, near-miss hybrid of Eastern traditions and a clearly Chinese interpretation of Western tourism. Some of the wines are quite good, particularly the reds; others have a long way to go, but the fun of the Chinese wine scene is that it is still taking baby steps. The excitement lies in seeing the birth of New World wines, much as if we could go back in time thirty years to the Napa Valley or several hundred to France or Italy.
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