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Ming-era winery preserves ancient taste

Updated: 2015-01-24 06:46
By Sun Yuanqing (China Daily)

Ming-era winery preserves ancient taste

Distillers work with no modern devices except thermometers, and take great pride in the finished product.[Photo provided to China Daily]

For anyone who loves to be near the water, Wuzhen in Zhejiang province is a heaven on Earth.

The small county, known as the Venice of the East, is built along ancient canals and can be explored on foot in just two days. Among its abundant history museums and local delicacies, sipping San Bai Rice Wine while watching wooden boats float by is one of the most authentic Wuzhen experiences that can't be missed.

Known for its brewing business in ancient times, Wuzhen had more than 20 wineries during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but Gaogongsheng is the only one that has survived.

Selected as a tribute to the Ming emperors, Gaogongsheng San Bai Rice Wine is popular for its rich flavor and refreshing fragrance. Despite its reputation, it is easy to miss the winery as it looks quite modest from the street. However, after you step inside, it's clear you're in one of the most traditional wineries in China.

There are no modern devices except a thermometer. And for experienced brewers like Shen Jinchao, 70, who has been making wine for decades, even that is not necessary. Shen is one of six brewers working in the winery, with the youngest being over 50.

"Young people prefer to work in modern wineries. Here it is too old-fashioned and too much hard work for them," Shen says.

Shen, who doesn't drink, has always been fascinated by the art of winemaking.

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