Hebei is the second most important wine region in China, as measured by both total production and by overall wine sales. In fact, the two wine regions of Hebei and Shandong account for nearly half of all wine production in China. The two major wine towns of Hebei are Shacheng and Changli, both located relatively close to Beijing along the East Coast of China. Hebei practically surrounds the capital city of Beijing: Shacheng is located northwest of Beijing, while Changli is located northeast of Beijing. Not surprisingly, both towns benefit from their close proximity to China’s capital city, especially in terms of marketing and sales opportunities.
Shacheng in Hebei province is the home of the first Chinese dry white wine. It is officially part of Huailai County, which is known for its hilly terroir. The hills to the northwest of Beijing can have altitudes of as much as 1,000 meters above sea level. This higher altitude provides a cooler climate for grape growers, as well as more sunshine on a daily basis. The hills surrounding Beijing are within sight of the Great Wall of China, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the most famous wine production company in Hebei is called Great Wall. During the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Great Wall was named as the official wine of the event.
Changli in Hebei province is the home of the first Chinese dry red wine, and is primarily known for its Cabernet grape varieties (both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Gernischt). Due to its proximity to the Bohai Sea, Changli can experience high humidity levels during the growing season. This makes careful attention to vineyards during the summer and early fall a priority, in order to avert possible fungal vine disease. This usually involves heavy spraying. Additionally, during the winter, vines need artificial protection to survive safely, as is the case in China’s northern wine regions.
Despite its coastal location, Hebei is generally characterized as having a continental, not maritime climate. In general, Hebei experiences hot, humid summers as well as cold, dry winters (which result from freezing winds blowing down from Siberia). Hebei is exposed to the East Asia monsoon cycle, and that means that summers bring a lot of rainfall. Geography in Hebei can be surprisingly diverse, ranging from the Yan Mountains in the north to the floodplains of the Yellow River in the south.
The most popular grape varieties in Hebei include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Gernischt, Chardonnay, Merlot and Marselan. At one time, the Longyan grape variety was very popular in Hebei, but as the wine region started to re-position itself for the international wine market, traditional international grape varieties have become more popular. As a sign of this globalization trend, Hebei became the home of the Sino-French Demonstration Vineyard in the 1990’s.