Forget rollercoasters and costumed characters… One Chinese company knows what the world really needs: theme parks for wine. Changyu Pioneer Wine Company, China’s oldest wine brand, is in the process of expanding beyond its existing 2,000-acre complex dedicated to the art of winemaking and tasting, which was built four years ago just outside Xi’an, China.
The current 600 million yuan ($86.9 million) wine theme park comprises imitation Italian and French castles, chateaus, and vineyards that look like they’re out of the pages of a fairytale. The complex as it stands is capable of churning out 5,000 bottles a year. Visitors can walk through an interactive exhibit that goes over the winemaking and tasting process, including how to identify the elusive terroir.
But Changyu’s entertainment operations will soon be dramatically expanding, according to Bloomberg. “Wine City,” a second site, in Yantai on the northeast coast of China, is already under construction. Soon, visitors will be able to visit a “wine skyscraper” decorated with ornamental abstract wine flutes that will house the Wine Research Institute, a Gothic-inspired structure with an artificial moat that will be devoted to producing red wine, and a Romanesque chateau next door dedicated to brandy-making.
Bloomberg describes the winemaking facilities as “less caves than a series of cathedrals, or gleaming airplane hangars, jig-sawed together with articulated roofs that look like giant caterpillars.”
But why China? We often think of France, California, Italy, and South America as the world’s major producers and consumers of wine. But winemaking and drinking is growing in popularity in China, and China currently has more land devoted to vineyards than any other country aside from France. This past fall, Chinese tasters even took the top prize in a wine-tasting competition held in France.