Yes, you read that right. A chateau in Shunyi – or not far from it.
While in most other countries, vineyards and wine brands are built around a family’s centuries-old chateau, here in Beijing it seems to be the opposite. Changyu is a brand of Chinese wine that has come to gain repute as one of the better local choices. To further bolster its attractiveness to investors and customers alike, a working chateau was built in 2009 on a property of over 500 hectares.
It is ideal for a day trip and a quick getaway from the city. Just a 45-minute drive from Shunyi to Miyun transports you to what feels like a movie set. Upon arrival, purchase an entrance ticket (RMB 60) which allows you access to the grounds for the day. Stroll among the vines (prettiest in autumn, right before harvest season), amble up to the facade of the chateau, wander through the small town (which is a stage for all the different wine and liquor brands), grab a bite to eat at the restaurant, and maybe even catch a wedding party leaving the town hall.
Particularly amusing is the small Catholic chapel, used as a display venue for a personalized wine labelling service. This is popular among the locals, who like to adorn the wine labels with photos of themselves on their wedding day or from their child’s baptismal ceremony. The small town is also where all the hotel accommodations are concentrated. Amenities include a golf course on site, squash courts, tennis courts, a spa and steam room.
Even if you don’t intend to stay the night, there is more than enough to keep you entertained for half a day. Inside the chateau is a wine museum that showcases not just wine culture but also the history of the brand which Zhang Bishi first established in 1892 in Yantai, ShanDong province. The exhibit crows about how independent testers have declared that the terroir in this area of Miyun is similar in chemical make-up to that of the Loire Valley in France. In the basement is an impressive cellar that stocks barrel upon barrel of wine being aged for particular hotels and private clients.
If it gets too stuffy indoors for the kids, hit the walking trail through a small forest. It is nice and cool, perfect for a packed picnic lunch. Play I-Spy with the little ones, making a game out of spotting the whimsical birdhouses scattered among the trees. Follow the marked path that leads downward to the pond and wander along the bank as you watch the swans float lazily by. The water from this pool irrigates the vines. You will soon forget that you are just a few feet away from the Jingmi highway.
On your way out, grab a bottle or two from the extensive wine and liquor selection at the main entrance. Then you can judge for yourself whether Changyu wine is indeed one of the world’s finest.
Chateau Changyu Castel 张裕卡斯特酒庄
RMB 60. Daily, 8am-5pm. Jugezhuang Zhen, Miyun County (535 6949 053) 密云县巨各庄镇
Driving directions: From Taiyanggong Qiao, take the Beijing-Chengde Expressway to exit 17
Address: Chateau Changyu AFIP Global, Jugezhuang Town, Miyun County, Beijing
Photos by Dana Cosio-Mercado
Dana is the beijingkids‘ Shunyi Correspondent. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Beijing in 2011 (via Europe) with her husband, two sons and Rusty the dog. She enjoys writing, photography, theater, visual arts, and trying new food. In her free time, she can be found exploring the city and driving along the mountain roads of Huairou, Miyun and Pinggu.