When you think of Beijing, do you think of wine? If not, maybe you should. Take a trip to the Beijing Wine Museum and discover the history of wine in China’s capital.
The Beijing Wine Museum is actually concerned with just one winery, Dragon Seal Winery. Dragon Seal was founded in 1910 by a French clergyman who set up a vineyard near Heishanhu Church (near the Summer Palace). He built the cellar in the basement of the church and hired a French winemaker to make red and white wines. Local Christians worked at the winery, and each year the yield was between five and six tons. The wine was for church use, and not sold. In 1912, they began to produce sparkling wine as well.
In 1933, the Shangyi School took over wine production and produced wines under the label of “Chala”. In 1946 the winery was named the “Beiping Shangyi Winery”. The winery grew in popularity, with foreign embassies, hotels and shipping companies buying the wine and exporting it to Europe. In 1953, the winery was once again renamed- “Beijing Shangyi Winery”- and the French church stopped operating production. The winery moved to its current location on Yuquan Road where it planted six varieties of imported French grapes. In 1959, it was officially named the “Beijing Winery” by the Beijing government.
At the Beijing Winery Museum not only can you learn about the history of the winery, but also its winemaking process over the years. There are old tools on display as well as dioramas and sculptures illustrating the traditional methods. You can learn about wine barrels and the bottling process. There are several rooms dedicated to demonstrating wine production.
In more recent years, Dragon Seal Winery has enjoyed great success. In 1972, they produced the peppermint wine that Mao Zedong presented to President Nixon and his delegation when they first visited China. Dragon Seal won its first medal in 1989 in France, and has been awarded over 60 medals in international competitions since. In 2006, Dragon Seal was China’s number one exporter of wine, comprising 39% of all exported Chinese wine. It is the best-selling wine in four and five-star hotels in China and has a special cooperation with the famous Quanjude Restaurant Group.