The ultimate wine retreat has arrived, and it’s in an admittedly surprising location. Instead of Napa Valley, Tuscany, or Provence, you should head to the Chateau Changyu Reina in Xi’an, China, also known as “Wine City.”
Reportedly, the $870 million Chateau looks like it’s straight out of Medieval Italy, and is equal parts production facility, tourist attraction, and fantasy world. The grand castle features brick towers, cobblestone courtyards, and enormous wood-beamed halls. The main chateau sits on 1,000 acres along with three other Gothic-inspired buildings, complete with a moat. Yes, seriously.
Located in the Shaanxi province of central China, the Chateau is currently producing 5,000 bottles of wine per year – but they have plans to dramatically increase this number. If you’re more interested in the novelty of the whole operation, you can wander through the castle, which feels eerily historic. The Chateau houses an interactive, educational exhibition, complete with mirrors that encourage visitors to stick out their tongues and examine their taste buds. You can take a shot at matching wine regions to scents at a table covered in Perspex tubes and buttons.
The wine city isn’t complete yet, but the Changyu Chateau is part of a network of castles across the country, from Ningxia province to Beijing. This “network” is operated by Changyu Pioneer Wine Company, which is China’s oldest and largest winery. They collaborated with Castel group in France to establish the first professional chateau in China, which was designed by a French architect and follows a traditional chateau style. And in 2006, they partnered with a Canadian company to build the largest ice wine chateau in the world in Liaoning province.
The company’s latest project, this Italian-inspired castle, was named after Augusto Reina, who is helping Changyu to produce vintages to please the pickiest of wine snobs. Reina is the CEO of Illva Saronno, the Italian company that produces Disaronno. You can see a life-size bronze statue of the 77-year-old sitting on a bench in the chateau’s vineyard – a likely reward for Illva Saronno’s significant equity stake in Changyu.
Of the wine itself, Reina admitted that when he first had Chinese-made wine seven or eight years ago, it was “not so good.” But by 2013, China became the world’s biggest consumer of red wine, and this consumption has only continued to grow. Reina saw the potential and made a deal with Changyu that included an in-depth cultural exchange that included plenty of Italian winemaking advice.
“Wine City” has been nicknamed “Disneyland for Wine” by numerous press outlets, and we can see no fault in that. Forget red wine baths – this is where wine-fueled dreams come true.
Feature Photo Credit: Bloomberg/Ilva Saronno