Wine has been produced in China since the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD).
China’s “first modern winery” Changyu was founded in 1892 in Shandong province near the treaty port of Chefoo (now called Yantai) by the overseas Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Bishi.
Although long overshadowed by huangjiu (sometimes translated as “yellow wine”) and the much stronger distilled spirit baijiu, wine (葡萄酒 pútáojiǔ lit. “grape alcohol”) consumption & production have grown dramatically since the economic reforms of the 1980s.
Thanks to its immense territory and favorable climates, China is the largest grape producer worldwide, contributing to nearly half of the world’s grape production. When it comes to viticulture, it also has the third-largest vineyard area worldwide.
Notable wine-producing regions include Beijing, Yantai, Zhangjiakou in Hebei, Yibin in Sichuan, Tonghua in Jilin, Taiyuan in Shanxi, and Ningxia. The largest producing region is Yantai-Penglai; with over 140 wineries, it produces 40% of China’s wine.
Ao Yun is the fruit of an exceptional adventure by creating a wine estate in a previously unexplored terroir. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, near the legendary city of Shangri-La, Ao Yun vineyards range in altitude from 2,200 to 2,600 meters.
Around half of the current 27 hectares under vine were planted on ungrafted rootstock in 2000. These older vines are exclusively Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. In 2013 Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah and more Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc were planted by the Moët Hennessy team, this time on grafted rootstock.
To respect time-honored local tradition, the grape harvest and winemaking are done entirely by hand. The Ao Yun terroir enjoys exceptional climatic conditions, with temperatures similar to those of Bordeaux. Ao Yun means “flying above the clouds”, a reference to the clouds that cap the summits of the surrounding mountain chains.
Ao Yun 2018 became the first Chinese grand cru to be released through the Bordeaux négociant system.