Chateau Changyu: Day One

I was invited to join the members from the firm that was hosting the localization summit for a team building event at a place called Chateau Changyu, about an hour-and-a-half’s drive north of Beijing.

I considered staying in Beijing to go see The Forbidden City and The Great Wall, but I had visited both on my last trip here and wanted to see and hopefully explore some of the countryside, which this trip offered.

Chateau Changyu is an interesting place. First and foremost, it is a winery, which was one of the draws of the place for me, a chance to do some comparisons to what I have seen at home, in France and in Southern California. It is also basically a theme park, the “theme” being a chance to visit a old French (or German?)-style village while still in China. It was a popular place for brides and grooms to be photographed against a faux-European background featuring a Neuschwanstein-ish castle (which is where the winery cellars are housed). So you get the incongruous setting of a small European village surrounded by extensive vineyards set among iconic eroded Chinese mountains in the distance.

I attended some of the presentations, ventured into the cellars, and waited out a thunderstorm. After the storm passed, the bright late afternoon light set against a dark sky made for some very striking shots, which can be seen in the gallery below.

I was given some wine to taste while there, and while it was not the best I’ve ever had, it was also far from being the worst. I am pretty sure we will be hearing more about Chinese wine, since they seemed determined to make a dent in the market. The consensus though is that the local market needs to be educated first, as there were several stories of a locals chugging back expensive wine like pop. Am sure that too will change, and clearly there is an enormous market for good wine emerging here.

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