Monday, July 23, 2012

Changyu Thinks Bigger than Disneyland

Changyu, officially China's oldest winery—though Zhang Bishi founded the winery in 1892, that was long after adventurous French monks planted productive vines and made wine in remote mountainous Cizhong village in Yunnan province—has big wine plans. 
 Changyu started with industrial-sized facilities scattered throughout Yantai city, in Shandong province.

Then they partnered with the French to build Changyu-Castel in Yantai in 2002 and with the Canadians for Château Changyu Ice wine in northern Liaoning Province and Changyu Kely Estate in New Zealand. 

 And then came the Disney-like marketing effort called Chateau Changyu AFIP Global.  

Besides, these facilities, the company is building three other chateaus—Changyu Baron Balboa in Xinjiang Uygur province, Changyu Moser XV in Ningxia province and Changyu Reina in Shaanxi—planed to open in 2013. Adding to this armada of wineries, Changyu  announced at the end of June plans to build a “wine city” in Yantai.  Blueprints call for the 413 ha facility to have a research institute, wine production center, vineyards, an international wine trading center and, of course, a “European-style village.”

Obviously Changyu feels it has a winning formula with the European-style villages as wine tourism destinations. Back at AFIP, even the adjoining estate vineyard serves dual purposes, both as a source of wine grapes and as a scenic experience with the Yan shan Mountains in the background. A young couple stroll hand in hand through the vineyard on the two-kilometer long street-wide concrete walkway with a lacy metal arched overhang. They giggle and photograph themselves with iPhones near tight clusters of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes hanging ready for harvest.

Changyu just might have the winning wine formula—by combining entertainment, education and tasting—for luring Chinese to wine. 

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