German winemaking flourishes in the East

( ) Updated: 2014-04-03 11:20:59

The sound of corks popping can be heard at the Nober-Hans Vineyard nestled in mountains of east China's Shandong province.

The vineyard is named after German winemakers Nober Gorres and Hans Beu, who were mentioned by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Germany on Friday, when he talked about people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Xi said Gorres and his assistant Beu had made 17 trips to Zaozhuang city in Shandong to share their grape cultivation and grafting technology between 2000 and 2009.

Gorres used to run the family business -- Vineyard Sonnenberg -- a famous Germany winery with more than 500 years of history.

Before he died in May 2009, Gorres would visit Zaozhuang twice a year to help local farmers grow grapes.

The Shanting District of Zaozhuang is a resource-depleting area, after decades of coal mining as a pillar industry. The local authorities seek to transform the economy into more sustainable one, with an endeavor to encourage farmers to grow grape.

But until the arrival of German brewmasters, grape in Shanting were never grown for wine making.

With 91 varieties of European fruit saplings brought over by Gorres and Beu, the vineyard covers about 30 hectares at the foot of Yinshan Mountain. The operation not only teaches Chinese farmers about German wine making, but is also a nursery garden for cultivating European fruit seedlings.

Chinese farmer Yu Tingbo, 70, is in charge of grape cultivation at Nober-Hans Vineyard.

"When Nober first arrived here, he brought two giant bags of saplings. He said the luggage was that heavy he had to pay an overweight luggage fee to get on his flight," said Yu.

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