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Chateau Lafite builds first Asian vineyard in E China

(Xinhua)

09:25, March 13, 2012

JINAN, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Chateau Lafite Rothschild, a French wine estate that produces the world's most expensive wines, has started construction on its first Asian production base in east China's Shandong province.

Domaines Barons de Rothschild, Chateau Lafite's parent company, has teamed up with CITIC, China's largest state-owned investment company, to build the base in Penglai, a city on the easternmost tip of the province, which is known as one of China's largest wine-producing areas.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Sunday, said Cong Yanpeng, head of the city's wine bureau, on Monday.

With an initial investment of 100 million yuan (15.87 million U.S. dollars), the production base is designed to cover 26 mu (about 1.73 hectares) and will include a winery, a vineyard and other facilities, said Cong.

It is not yet known when the construction will be finished.

After visiting many regions in Asia over the past 15 years, Chateau Lafite technicians finally chose Penglai for its advantageous climate and geographical conditions, said Eric Kohler, Lafite's technical director.

Chinese interest in wine has risen sharply over the past few years, with the country currently standing as the world's fifth-largest wine consumer. In the first 11 months of 2011, China imported 1.27 billion dollars' worth of wine, up 88 percent year-on-year, according to customs data.

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