China Is Building a Disney World for Wine

Changyu, China’s winemaking powerhouse, is building French-style chateaus and Italianate castles around the country—and an entire “Wine City”—to encourage the country’s passion for the grape.

At Chateau Changyu Reina, honey-colored brick towers enclose wide cobbled courtyards, and vast, wood-beamed halls look as if they are prepared to host an imminent medieval banquet. At first glance, the Italianate castle and winery could have been built hundreds of years ago, in Italy’s Tuscan hills.

Spoiler: It wasn’t.

The chateau is but one part of an ambitious 600 million yuan ($86.9 million) complex completed four years ago just outside the city of Xi’an, in Shaanxi province in central China. It is a prodigious winemaking operation powered by more than 2,000 acres of vines. Currently, it’s annually churning out 5,000 bottles, mostly merlot—and the goal is to drastically scale up. The cellars at Chateau Changyu Reina have room for as many as 150,000 oak barrels.

An interactive exhibit at Chateau Reina, which teaches visitors about the global history of wine.

Courtesy Illva Saronno

The faux-historic halls of the castle are also home to an interactive exhibition that walks visitors through the history and making of wine. Mirrors encourage visitors to stick out their tongues to examine their taste buds; there’s a statue of Bacchus, plus a wall that showcases the various strata of soil, or terroir. Inexplicably, a giant, smiling face resembling a cartoon grape beams out from one corner. An oversized globe spotlights the world’s other wine regions, while a table covered in Perspex tubes and buttons asks users to see if they can match a region to a scent. There’s even a room dedicated to former Chinese leaders (none of whom seem to be enjoying a glass of wine).

A Country Enchanted by Wine

This mock castle isn’t unique. It’s one of a network of so-called chateaux built across the country, from Ningxia province to Beijing, by China’s oldest winemaker, Changyu.  These grand castles, each inspired by a different European winemaking country, are a concrete sign of the company’s ambitious plans for Middle Kingdom wine.  According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, China is the second-largest wine grower by vineyard area, behind only France, with land under vine roughly the size of Puerto Rico.

Chateau Baron Balboa, a winery owned by Changyu near Shihezi City in China’s Xinjiang Province.

Courtesy Illva Saronno

The challenge Chinese winemakers face, though, isn’t quantity. It’s improving the quality of whatever juice those lands can produce, and that’s where Changyu has tapped an experienced, new partner for help. 77-year old Augusto Reina isn’t just the namesake of that Shaanxi chateau; he’s also the head of Illva Saronno Holding Spa, the Italian winemaker best-known worldwide as the producer of Disaronno liqueur. Reina has imported his know-how to help China’s nascent industry produce vintages that even the sniffiest wine snob might deign to sample. In return, Changyu named a castle after him and even crafted a life-size bronze of the Italian sitting on a bench in the vineyard—raising a glass. 

Is the Quality There?

Augusto Reina.
Illva Saronno

Sitting in a hotel near that castle (and sculpture), Reina anticipates what you’re thinking. “When we came to China seven or eight years ago, I had a stomach ache, I must confess it, from the quality of the wine. It was not so good,” he explains, via a translator. Yet the entrepreneur saw potential in both the product and the market; by 2013, China had become the world’s biggest consumer of red wine and has continued to grow. For more than two and a half years, Reina negotiated with Changyu. “They were very demanding, challenging negotiations. I don’t think this kind of thing would be possible for an American or a French company, because they have such a different business culture,” he continues, diplomatically.

Eventually, Reina brokered a deal that included Illva taking a significant equity stake in Changyu. The pact also initiated an in-depth cultural exchange, sending Illva’s winemakers to various Changyu sites to help school their new colleagues, as well as bringing Chinese staffers to Italy on a tasting tour. The Italians helped Changyu select the grapes to grow and offered advice on how to tend to its existing vines. They pitched in with expertise in selecting machinery for production, too, such as bottling lines.

Chateau Reina, in Xi’an.

Courtesy Illva Saronno

One conundrum that even the Italians can’t crack, though, is the dominance of red wine. Redolent of such renowned regions as Burgundy and Bordeaux, red wine shares a color with both the Communist Party and good luck. Unfortunately for lovers of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, white is the color of mourning and is mostly worn at funerals, which stigmatizes blanc plonk long before it’s opened.

Chateau Changyu-Castel in Yantai.

Courtesy Illva Saronno

Coastal Wines

Nowhere is that partnership more evident than at a second Changyu site, in the resort city of Yantai on China’s northeastern coast, just across the Yellow Sea from North Korea. This is the location of the company’s most aggressive and surreal project so far: Wine City. Set on more than 1,000 acres and costing an estimated 6 billion yuan ($870 million), it is aptly named, a sprawling hybrid of production facility, tourist attraction, and trippy fantasia. The inevitable rows and rows of vines pale next to the manmade structures that dot the landscape. There’s already one chateau, a white neo-Gothic structure that looks like the set of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and two others are nearing completion. Another Gothic-inspired pile, complete with an artificial moat, will be dedicated to championing and producing red wine, while the squat and sturdy Romanesque chateau next door—imagine the home of any Disney princess—is a temple to brandy making, a first for the company.

Chateau Changyu Moser XV in Ningxia, China.

Courtesy Illva Saronno

A swirling skyscraper is under construction on a nearby hill, too: Six abstracted champagne flutes decorate the façade of this Wine Research Institute. (Bordeaux’s new Cité du Vin seems a flimsy rival in comparison.) It will house scientists working on perfecting those vintages, as well as tasting rooms and bars offering views of the countryside, at least on days when pollution from Beijing doesn’t descend in a thick, white smog. Such fumes don’t have much immediate effect on vines, compared with toxins in water or soil, so China’s notoriously noxious air have not yet impacted its wine output.

State-of-the-Art Technology

Most impressive of all are the winemaking facilities themselves, less caves than a series of cathedrals, or gleaming airplane hangars, jigsawed together with articulated roofs that look like giant caterpillars. A shy guide leading a tour round the humming, spotless facilities says this is the world’s largest wine production site. It’s a plausible claim. With 95 tanks here already for a storage capacity exceeding 40,000 tons, more are planned; when Wine City hits peak production capacity, it will churn out 450,000 tons of wine and brandy per year, she said. (Compare that with Château Petrus, which might produce around 30,000 bottles, or just under 200 tons, over the same period)

 

The glass clinks noisily as it trundles around 10 snaking automatic bottling lines, and the cleaning system automatically sterilizes 120 cold stabilization tanks, which help forestall the broken glass-like crystals that form in chilled, bottled wine if it’s not properly handled. While the Changyu brand is emblazoned on almost everything, occasionally other names peek through—Italy’s Tecninox and ERsistemi, for example, collaborated on that cold stabilization room; almost every piece of major tech in the plant is Italian-designed, thanks to Reina’s investment and influence. “All the technologies here are exactly like the ones we have, but since our plant was built two years before them, this is even more modern,” he says, proudly.

Tourism, Too?

Can Changyu’s deep-pocketed attempts under Reina’s tutelage really create a new winemaking hotspot? “It’s definitely one of the recognizable big brands, along with Great Wall and Dynasty. Thus, it has instant brand recognition for many Chinese consumers, ”explains Edward Ragg, of (Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting) in Beijing by email. He is cautious about the Italians’ impact on what goes into the bottle. Euromonitor International Ltd. analyst Spiros Malandrakis is more bullish, drawing parallels with the surging British sparkling wine industry, which has been buoyed by climate change and a few canny blind tastings in which it beat Champagne. “Considering the amount of money being in, and the people involved, we will soon be seeing not just award-winning sparkling wine from England, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see super-premium red wines from China, too,” he tells Bloomberg.


Brought to you by www.ServingAlcohol.com.  Online training and resources for bar and restaurant owners, managers, servers, waiters, waitresses.Offering Bartender License, Server Training Courses, Food Safety and Management courses.  We train safe service for responsible alcohol service

TABC Certification is the best way to complete Alcoholic Seller Server Training in Texas

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) believes in trained sellers and other staff. The social responsibility of these servers is very important to them. The control is through proper training and certification programs. The TABC Certification provides you with the necessary knowledge and techniques.

You learn the laws regulating sales/service of alcoholic beverages to minors, intoxicated persons, and non-members of a private club. It covers ways to protect yourself and your bar/restaurant from any liability. It explains the way alcohol affects your customers. It also covers refusing sale to customers who are asking for drinks above their limits or to minors.

You can complete this course from Serving Alcohol Inc. in partnership with Learn2Serve. They can enrol you online by filling a quick form. Complete your alcohol training entirely online in 2 to 4 hours or less using any digital device. You also get access to the course content for six months from your enrolment date.

The TABC Certification course incorporates decades or research directly from their staff who served the customers at bars for several years. Because of an experienced course designer. You get some great tips from the industry. There is a direct coordination of this institute with the sates. The key participating states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Washington DC, Texas, Pennsylvania and many others as well.

The Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training (BASSET Training) is the program from the state of Illinois. It is an educational and training tool to sellers/servers of alcoholic beverages to serve responsibly and helps them to stay within the law.

As explained by the Illinois Government, the goals and objectives of this program are as listed below:

  • Train sellers and servers to engage in responsible alcohol service
  • Spot signs of intoxication and use intervention techniques;
  • Prevent DUIs and alcohol-related fatalities
  • Prevent alcoholic beverages sales to underage
  • Work on creating safer communities
  • Educate owners, managers, and staff about insurance and state laws

The important new is, by July 1, 2018, all servers in the bars/restaurants from this state are mandated to take the BASSET Training. It is a good idea to check local with local ordinances for exact training requirements. The local liquor retailers have are responsibility to be aware of state liquor laws, rules and regulations, and local ordinances. The training institute Serving Alcohol Inc. works all over the United States and provides the exact certification as required by each state. Check specific course details for discounts also.

Learn to manage Serving Environments with Alcohol Course

The way weekend fun is important for everyone, the staff at the bars have their professional responsibility for alcohol sales and service. There are specific courses like Bartender Skills training, Alcohol Course, and Food Safety Courses. Let us see specifics of two of these courses in this blog post.

Manage Serving Environments

This program is for servers/bar staff related to the sale and consumption of alcohol. It includes details relates to selling alcohol to minors, intoxicated, possibly impaired, or poly-impaired persons. The intention of the course is to prevent possible impairment, underage drinking, and drunk driving. The program is also known as Alcohol Course.

In some states, there are primary requirements which one has to complete before taking this certification course. It is mandatory to many bars and restaurants to work as a staff with them. The industry experts collaborating with you is the most important part of this course. It relates to your learning and training desires and managing the establishments professionally. A certificate from a premier institute shows your commitment to your business and readiness for responsible business practices.

Along with the course, you get frequent updates to course material and a library of resources which is helpful for your business. Like any other professional course, you get a chance to collaborate with peers from different establishments. The course coordinators make sure you pass the certification.

Bartender Training Course

If you or your staff is engaged in serving drinks, this course is important. There are specific skills you need to gain to work in this industry. Some reputed training institute awards the Bartender Certification.

The course is available online and covers the topics listed below:

  • Bar Setup
  • Mixology
  • Beers, Wines, and Liquors
  • Glassware
  • Guest Service
  • Increasing Tips
  • Searching and Interviewing for a Job

Along with the course material, you receive links to additional resources to improve your skills. The online course is flexible, and you can complete it at your convenience. The course requires constant updates as per latest trends and industry information. At the end of your review and completion of training material, you get a Bartender Certification.

Serving Alcohol Inc provides all information related to these courses, and you can complete some of them online and some of the classroom courses. The courses are available in almost all the states in the US, and the Institute has 40 years of experience in this field. You can choose the course by State, and Serving Alcohol Inc. will provide you the necessary training through expert trainers and a certificate which has a value nationwide.

Bottle Service in Las Vegas Clubs (Should you get it?)

Be very careful when getting bottle service.  It takes the control over pouring away from the club employees.  This has led to many problems in the past and you should be careful when doing this.

Make sure you are drinking with a group that you trust. Talk before your night out about potential problems with over indulgence.  Decide how you can help people in your party maintain a good pace. Pick mixers that you can drink by themselves. Stagger alcohol drinks, meaning drink a water or other non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic drinks.  Stay safe and have fun.

Here is the info about bottle service in Las Vegas:

http://www.clubvivalasvegas.com/cat_bottle_service_-_what_it_is_and_when_to_order_it.cfm

 

Will self-serve beer render bartenders obsolete?

Are machines good listeners? Are robots replacing humans for customer service roles?  The younger generation don’t want to interact with other humans for fear of their reactions. People spend more time with machines than with people and this is creating a dangerous time in society. Our younger generation lacks the communication skills to interact with other people.
Some of the machines we are concerned about are the automatic beer dispensers. They have incorporated some mechanization to prohibited sales, they can’t oversee a situation that may have disastrous results for your establishment.  Switching to these mechanized dispensers, the manufactures are recommending that your staff’s duties would switch from the service of alcohol to the monitoring of alcohol consumption.  But, many alcohol serving establishments may choose to ignore the use of their staff purely for overseeing the environment.  Again, creating a unwanted and dangerous opportunity of social risk in society.

Machines lack the understanding of legal duty to care and machines don’t have the ability to give human compassion.

Attitudes are taking over the human race. Machines can stop working but employees can never stop caring. You save a great deal of employee service time with service machines that only need people to service them.  We are impatient with people even when people are caring and thoughtful.  The lack of human compassion and a love of money will increase the opportunity of risk by not knowing what to feel.  The amount of alcohol in a drink does not give us the ability to know the human reactions to the drinks, especially without sufficient alcohol training or alcohol certification.   Questions of over service of alcohol will be hard to answer when trying to take deposition from a machine. The opportunity of less caring in service creates less control in society.  Society may hold owners and manufacturers accountable for choosing profit over safety.

What are your thoughts?  Please, let us know if you have some ideas?

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