Located in the far northeast of China, Liaoning is the most famous of all of the nation’s ice wine regions. Altogether, there are six other ice wine regions in China in addition to Liaoning, including Heilongjiang and Jilin. Liaoning started its ice wine production in 2001, and now has total capacity of over 1,400 tons of ice wine per year. The primary grape variety in Liaoning is Vidal. The two most famous wine companies in Liaoning are Wunushan and Changyu Golden Valley.
The best ice wine in Liaoning is generally considered to be the Golden Valley ice wines from top Chinese domestic producer Changyu Pioneer Wine Company, which has invested in a very lavish chateau project in the region in order to boost the prestige of Chinese ice wine. These efforts appear to be having an effect: in London, it’s now possible to walk into “the Queen’s wine merchant” (Berry Bros. & Rudd) and pick up a bottle of Changyu Golden Valley Ice Wine. Britain’s Sky News has even done a feature article on the region and its wines.
The key to the success of the region’s ice wine is based on the high standards imposed on the regional producers. According to Chinese regulations in Liaoning, all ice wine must be made from grapes naturally frozen on vines, and no chaptalization (i.e. the addition of sugar to increase alcoholic strength) is allowed. All wines must contain between 9-14 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), and at least 150 grams of sugar per liter (which is even higher than the national standard of 125 grams of sugar per liter).
The primary concentration of wine production in Liaoning takes place in the eastern part of the province, approximately 80 kilometers to the southwest of Tonghua in Jilin (another major ice wine region). Liaoning is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Triangle,” due to its unique shape and strategic location. To the south, there is the Yellow Sea; to the southeast, there is North Korea; to the northeast, there is Jilin; to the southwest, there is Hebei; and to the northwest, there is Inner Mongolia. Liaoning is located in the southernmost part of Northeast China, which has been known throughout history as Manchuria.