China paves its Wine Silk RoadOn Oct. 10, the first Wine Silk Route event was held in Fangshan District, Beijing. I was invited as a judge and presenter of the history and prospects of Korean traditional liquors.
During the five-day event, I visited a number of wineries in Fangshan District. It was far more extensive festival than many international events held in Korea. At the lobby of the resort used for the festival, hundreds of wines competing in the show were displayed for tasting. It was not just the scope of the event that surprised me. The quality of Chinese wines was outstanding.
The history of wine in Fangshan District began with Chateau Bolongbao in 1991. Fangshan District is a 2,019 square kilometer (780 square mile) mountainous region, three times the size of Seoul, in the western suburbs of Beijing. With about 600 mm of rainfall annually, it had been a barren wasteland in the past. Here, wine-grade grapes were planted and cutting-edge fermentation and aging facilities were installed to produce high-quality wines.
Chateau Lion, established in 1999, is a European-style luxurious winery, where international wine exhibition and restaurant as well as vast vineyards and winemaking facilities attract tourists.
In the harvest season, Korean farmers are sighing with worries. In a country where only 21 percent of food is produced domestically, the reality of reducing farming production is painful. Agriculture and food industry and tourism are sources that can produce many jobs in the fourth industrial revolution era. Instead of reducing farming production, wouldn’t it be wise to develop processing industries and provide subsidies to the farmers who produce ingredients?
Who would have thought the wine industry would blossom in China’s barren land when wine used to be exclusively produced by European wineries with history, culture and stories? Different regions had their own specialty liquors in the Joseon period. Let’s hope for the days of local “Korean Wave”s by developing breweries and distilleries that can become tourist attractions.