The Tinlot Wine Chateau plans to produce 250,000 bottles annually for up-market consumers.
Changyu Pioneer Wine Co, China's oldest and largest winemaker, began construction on a new chateau on Sept 8 named for 80-year-old Robert Tinlot, the honorary president of the International Vine and Wine Office and the French Grape and Wine Institute.
Products from the chateau in Yantai, Shandong province, will target the upper-end of the wine market in China and overseas, the company said.
Requiring an investment of 150 million yuan ($23.76 million), the Tinlot Wine Chateau is just a part of Changyu's ambitious plans to establish a 413-hectare international "wine city" on the outskirts of Yantai.
The 6 billion yuan wine city is designed to be one of the world's leading grape and wine production sites, playing an important role in the company's bid for a greater share of the global premium wine market.
It will be home to a national grape and wine research institute, grape cultivation areas, wine processing, an international wine trading center and two luxurious chateaus.
According to Zhou Hongjiang, general manager of Changyu, the Tinlot wine chateau alone will have a 66.7-hectare vineyard of fine grapes for premium vintages. It is also the first organic vineyard in China.
To ensure quality, all vines are at least 10 years old and are only allowed to produce a limited quantity of grapes, just enough for 250,000 bottles of fine wine annually.
"With premium grapes and advanced production lines, the chateau can produce wines rivaling the world's best vintages. These wines will feature decent value for collectors and so a good choice for investors," said Zhou.
To express his affection for the namesake chateau, master winemaker Tinlot traveled to Yantai from France to attend the groundbreaking ceremony.
He also accepted the invitation to be the lifelong honorable president of the chateau.
"I will try my best to promote the development of the chateau and make its wines with unique Chinese flavor available to customers as soon as possible," Tinlot said at the ceremony.
Tinlot's connection to the city of Yantai and Changyu can be traced back 25 years. In 1987, he officially announced the 116 "International Vine and Wine Cities" from 28 countries and regions, with Yantai the only one listed in Asia. Five years later, he came to Yantai and granted the award to the city personally.
On a latitude similar to France's premier wine producing area Bordeaux, Yantai is regarded as China's best growing region for quality grapes, with abundant sunshine, favorable soil and the right humidity, he added.
Tinlot said that the city's favorable natural and business environment have fueled robust growth at a large number of local wineries in recent years.
"Among them, Changyu is the most impressive. I have seen it grow into one of the world's top wine producers in the past few years," he said.
To express gratitude to Tinlot for his contribution to promoting Chinese wine, Changyu awarded him the title of permanent resident of its international wine city. The company will also erect a statue of the wine master at the Tinlot Chateau.