It may seem incongruous to place the word “Chateau” before the words “Changyu Baron Balboa Xinjiang,” but this European-inspired winery in China’s resort city of Yantai is poised to become much more than just a wine estate.
It’s being transformed by Changyu — the country’s mega-wine company, with estates in operation from Xinjiang to Xi’An — into an attraction called Wine City.
There’s already one chateau in operation on the property, other buildings are under construction, and still more are planned. Ultimately, Wine City is intended to provide a “total immersion” experience for wine lovers and those seeking to learn more about wine.
That will be accomplished through an array of educational opportunities to be housed inside the various buildings. There will be a tour of the production facilities, numerous interactive wine displays, an opportunity to test one’s “sniffing skills” — identifying the grape variety by the smell of the wine — and, of course, wine tasting.
It’s a massive undertaking with a price tag of $870 million that Changyu is confident will be worthwhile because of two statistics that may surprise the rest of the wine world:
- In 2016, China became the largest wine-grape producer in the world, in terms of acreage devoted to vineyards. The country that gave us “Chateau” — France — dropped to the No. 2 spot.
- In 2013, China became the world’s largest consumer of red wine — not necessarily a surprise, considering its population of 1.37 billion.
Wine City is being referred to as an “amusement park for adults,” and while it may be lacking the thrill rides of a Universal Studios park, it promises to offer several hours of fun, primarily for adults.
We say “primarily” because, interestingly, China is one of 19 countries with no minimum legal drinking age. That said, getting there may be a challenge for younger adults, since the legal driving age in China is 18.
Wine City or bust!