Chinese wine company to build a 'wine city' in Shandong
Changyu (张裕), one of China's major winemakers, is planning to build an “international wine city” in Yantai, Shandong Province, reported Chinanews.com (in simplified Chinese only).
Dubbed “Yantai Changyu International Wine City,” the project is expected to cover an area of four square kilometers -- twice the size of Monaco -- and cost RMB 6 billion (US$945 million) to build.
The plan was uncorked by Changyu’s general manager Zhou Hongjiang (周洪江) during the company’s 120th anniversary gala.
The new venture is also expected to launch China’s first 5A-class scenic spot in wine tourism as, according to Zhou, the "winetropolis" will include a 200,000-square-meter wine-themed tourist town.
The wine city is due to be completed in 2016 but the company is yet to announce when the project will break ground.
Building China's wine tourism
According to the blueprint, the “winetropolis” will contain seven main sections: a national wine research center, a wine production center, a wine château named after Robert Tinlot (honorary general manager of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine), a château for Changyu’s Keya brandy, a vineyard, a wine trading center and a wine-themed tourist town.
The town will be called Haina (海纳), which translates as "a good liquid tolerance," and will house a shopping street, bars, several wine-themed five-star hotels, a wine spa, to name just a few.
Families appears to be Haina's major target as Changyu has put a wedding chapel, an art museum, an amusement park and a wine theme park on the drawing board.
More on CNNGo: Wine's new new world emerges: China
“The wine city will be the hosting venue of Yantai’s annual international wine festival after its completion,” Zhou told Qilu Evening News, Shandong's provincial newspaper.
The wine city is designed to receive at least 1 million tourists a year.
Production target: 400,000 tons of booze a year
“Yantai Zhangyu International Wine City shows me the future of Chinese wine,” said Wang Qi (王琦), secretary general of China Alcoholic Drinks Association. “It pushes the industrial wine production to its limit.”
Its wine production center will occupy 220,000 square meters and is due to pump out 250,000 tons of wine and 150,000 tons of brandy annually (yes, they use ton as the unit).
More on CNNGo: New must-do for Chinese tourists: French wine tour
Changyu is also hoping to collect wine produced in every single year since 1871 for the trading center.
Wang added that he hoped the city will birth world-class wineries to tie the historic châteaus in France.
"As the 'wine city' is set to include a national wine research center, then I would hope this would benefit the entire Chinese wine industry," said Edward Ragg, a British independent wine consultant based in Beijing. "However, this very much depends on to what extent research will be shared."
Ragg said the new facilities may boost wine tourism in China, "but it remains to be seen whether the new venture will be primarily an asset to Changyu or whether it will stimulate the industry as a whole."
Established by an Indonesian-Chinese merchant Zhang Bishi (张弼士) in 1892 in Yantai, Changyu is China’s first and oldest wine company, but according to Ragg, "it has yet to improve quality in both its vineyards and winemaking."
Wine boom in China
Changyu's grand plan of a “winetropolis” came amid China’s fast wine boom.
Ranking fifth in global wine consumption, China drank approximately 1.6 billion bottles of wine in 2011 -- that’s more than one bottle per person. A Vinexpo study forecasts a further 54 percent increase in consumption between 2011 and 2015.
More on CNNGo: How Chinese learn to drink wine
In addition to the wine city, Changyu is aiming to build a network of 3,000 wine franchises throughout China in six years.