The contents of 200 clay pots found near Rizhao (Shandong) in 1995 and dated to 2,600 BC indicate that grapes were grown in China as early as 4,600 years ago. Residues of grape wine were found in them. The explorer Zhang Qian (195-114 BC) returned from his travels in the West in 138 BC during the Han Dynasty and brought back knowledge of viticulture. The first written documents date back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when Emperor Li Shimin vulgo Taizong (599-649) noticed the special quality of the grapes from the Turpan Basin, which is why he had his domain extended to the northwestern region of Xinjiang. As early as the mid-7th century, vinifera varieties called Snake, Mare's Nipple and Dragon's Pearl were probably introduced from Russia. Marco Polo (1254-1324) reports of vine plantations and excellent wine in the northeastern region of Taiyuan. In the 14th century, however, many vineyards were cleared by imperial order in favour of grain cultivation.
Wine never became an important part of life in China as it did among all other great civilised peoples. Besides the climate, which in large areas is characterised by cold winters and extremely hot summers, this is also related to eating habits, because in Chinese cuisine, at least in some areas, particularly spicy dishes are popular, with which rice liquor goes much better than wine. But reducing food to spicy does not do justice to China. There are broad areas that have no spicy cuisine. Specifically, these are Guangdong, Shandong, Xinjiang, Shanghai, Beijing and Northeast China. Even among the lower-alcohol drinks, grape wine (grape alcohol), as it is called in China, played a subordinate role alongside rice wine (mijiu) for a very long time. Wine remained an exclusive rarity for a wealthy minority for over a thousand years; this is only beginning to change rapidly today.
Modern Chinese wine history began in 1892, when the businessman Cheong Fatt Tze vulgo Chang Bishi (1840-1916) bought land in Yantai (Shandong), introduced 150 varieties with around 500,000 vines from Europe and the USA and founded the Chang Yu Winery. The Austro-Hungarian consul Baron Max von Babo (1862-1933) was engaged as advisor and cellar master. He imported barrels, presses and 400,000 Welschriesling seedlings from Austria and brought the winery international renown. This was the birth of the wine multinational Yantai Changyu Pioneer Wine Company. At the beginning of the 20th century, other large wineries were founded, such as Shang-Yi (today Beijing Friendship Winery) in Shandong by French missionaries in 1910, Melco in Quingdao by German missionaries in 1914 and Tung-Hua in Jilin by Japanese missionaries. At the same time, French monks in Yunnan were practising viticulture on a small local scale but with an amazing influence on the population, which continues to this day.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, extensive vineyards were planted along the Yellow River. From the late 1970s onwards, foreign investment was encouraged. From 1980, the French company Rémy Martin, produced the Dynasty brand. The "Huadong Winery" in Qingdao (Shandong) was built in 1985 and acquired by Allied Domecq in 1990. The French company Pernod Ricard founded the "Dragon Seal" brand with the "Beijing Friendship Winery" in 1987. In 1978, Chateau Huaxia was founded with the brand "Greatwall",...