China's Fine Wine Counteroffensive

As its wine culture comes of age, China’s garish faux French estates have incited a native counteroffensive
China is the world’s top Bordeaux importer, but mainland vintners are springing up fast Illustration by Tracy Ma

On the outskirts of Yinchuan, a sleepy provincial capital near the Gobi Desert, workers put the finishing touches on Château Changyu Moser XV, a vast building with white stone walls and black-tiled mansard and domed roofs. If it weren’t for the cast-metal statues of Chinese lions guarding the main gate, it could pass as a classical château found in the cradle of France’s Loire Valley. When it opens soon, the 150-acre estate will serve as local headquarters for Changyu Pioneer Wine, a Chinese vintner that already has ersatz châteaux in other parts of China. This summer the company announced plans to spend $950 million on a “wine city” in eastern China’s Shandong province, complete with two châteaux and a European-style village.

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