Hebei is a province on the east coast of China, surrounding the capital city of Beijing. The province spans 6 degrees of latitude between 36°N and 42°N and is home to a wide range of landscapes, from the floodplains of the Yellow River in the south to the Yan Mountains in the north. A wine industry surrounding the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety has sprung up in Hebei and there are also some smaller plantings of Chardonnay, Merlot and Marselan.
Hebei covers an area of around 73,000 square miles (188,000 sq km), curved around the separate administrative regions of Beijing and Tianjin. The Taihang Mountains in the west separate the province from Shanxi, and the viticulturally important province of Shandong is in the south-east.
Despite the proximity of the Bohai Sea, the climate in Hebei is more continental than maritime. Hot, humid summers are followed by cold, dry winters that are subject to freezing winds from Siberia. Hebei is affected by the East Asian Monsoon, a weather system that brings cool, moist air from the Pacific and Indian oceans and causes rain when this collides with warmer air over the continent. Most rainfall occurs during the summer, and growers in certain parts of the province must be wary of the dangers of fungal vine diseases in the late summer and early fall.
Viticulture in Hebei is split between two regions in particular: the hilly terroir of Huailai, north-west of Beijing, and the coastal city of Changli in the north of the province.
Huailai sits in the shadow of the Great Wall of China in the hills surrounding Beijing and is home to several large Chinese producers. Among these is Greatwall, one of the country's most famous (and prolific) wine producers, and the official wine of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As in many parts of China, there is significant interest from French producers, and the Sino-French Demonstration Vineyard was planted in the late 1990s as a joint venture between the French and Chinese governments.
Huailai's terroir has proved well suited to viticulture, with the close proximity to Beijing's large population providing an excellent added incentive for the development of a wine industry here. Vineyards at altitudes up to 3300ft (1000m) above sea level have a much cooler climate than Beijing, and high levels of sunshine ensure that grapes receive ample sunshine for ripening.
Hebei's other wine-producing area surrounds the city of Changli, on the coast just south of Qinhuangdao. Cabernet Sauvignon vines are planted in the agriculturally suitable land surrounding the city, and several large producers are located here.
As in much of China, a large amount of wine-related development is under way in Hebei province, and as interest and quality increase, so will the international availability of wines from Hebei.