Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chateau Changyu Moser XV and the Sand Lake of Ningxia, China

Sept. 1, 2012 – On the way to Chateau Changyu Moser XV we passed the famous Western Xia Tombs which look like small stone pyramids and built around 1000 AD. They are part of the unique tourism sites to visit around Yinchuan, including pagodas, beautiful mosques, and the last section of the Great Wall which ends in Ningxia.

Chateau Changyu Moser XV will soon become another of the main tourist sites to visit in the region when it opens in October of 2012. It is a beautiful French chateau built on grand standards (see photos) where tourists will be able to purchase a ticket to tour the castle and taste wine.

This new chateau in Ningxia is one of 4 that have been built in China by the wine giant Changyu. The others are in the Shandong province, outside Beijing in the Hebei wine region, and in the far West of the nation in the Xinjiang wine province. They also own several wineries in 5 other countries.

Our tour of the chateau was very exciting and we were allowed to see the bottling line operating, as well as the magnificent barrel room and an extensive wine musuem. It was while I was in the museum that I learned that Changyu is the oldest continually operating winery in China, starting in 1892 in the Shandong region by an Austrian winemaker.

I asked how many bottles of wine Changyu produced and was told it was a “sensitive topic,” but they did share the fact that they currently owe 350 mu of vineyards with plans to plant an additional 1000 mu. We did not taste any wine here, but I have tasted the high-end reserve wines of Changyu and they are impressive, though expensive. For more information, see:

The Sand Lake of Ningxia

After lunch we took a drive out to the famous Sand Lake of Ningxia, which is 35 miles north of Yinchuan. Though it was still cloudy it was a magnificent site to see the towering Helan Mountains behind the calm lake which is filled with unique reeds and lotus. There is also a wildlife perserve nearby, but we went to the tourist boardwalk area where you can rent boats, eat, and walk along the lake. There is also a large housing development near-by.

The Trip Home

After that we headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Beijing. Unfortunately the bad weather caused many delays which resulted in us not getting to our hotel, the Days Inn Forbidden City, until 11:30 pm. Despite this, Luigi and I braved the warm rain of Beijing to walk to the Forbidden Palace and take photos at midnight.

Sept. 2, 2012 - The next morning, I took a taxi to the Beijing airport and was amazed it was only 100 RMB ($16) from downtown Beijing – a 30 minute ride with no traffic on a Sunday morning. I did some shopping in the airport, then headed to the Air China lounge where I bumped into Jancis Robinson on her way home. We exchanged a few notes about our various winery visits, then I boarded the non-stop United flight home to San Francisco at noon, and landed at 8:30 am on the same day. It is always nice to gain an extra day.

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