Shandong is one of China's major wine-producing provinces. Located on the east coast of the country, equidistant between Beijing and Shanghai, Shandong is home to the majority of China's most prominent wine producers, along with the Tsingtao brewery. Cabernet Gernischt, Riesling and Chardonnay are the most important grape varieties grown in the province.
Shandong covers around 60,700 square miles (160,000 sq km) of land, an area that is roughly the same size as the US state of Georgia. The most viticulturally important part of the province is the 170-mile-long (274km) Shandong Peninsula that juts into the Yellow Sea toward Korea. Just north of the peninsula is where the famed Yellow River flows into the sea after traversing much of northern China.
Most producers in Shandong can be found on the outskirts of urban areas, and the city of Yantai on the northern coast of the peninsula has become China's wine capital. It was here that the first commercial wine producers began to make grape wines, pioneered by the Changyu wine company in the late 19th Century. In the past few decades, the city has been attracting international attention and the Bordeaux names of Castel and Barons de Rothschild have viticultural interests in Shandong.
The terroir of Shandong avoids the harsh continental extremes of the center of China and instead has a maritime climate, with cooler summers and warmer winters. Shandong is affected by the East Asian Monsoon, a weather system that brings cool, moist air from the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the province, causing summer rain. Fungal vine diseases caused by high rainfall are an important consideration for vignerons in the late summer and early autumn.
Most of Shandong is relatively flat, coastal terrain, although the middle of the province is marked by some hillier country; the highest peak reaches 5000ft (1500m) above sea level. Many of the vineyards spread throughout the province sit on south-facing slopes where better drainage helps to lessen the impact of summer rain, ensuring the vines do not get 'wet feet' and become waterlogged.
Shandong's location between China's two largest cities and its own sizable population – larger than that of Germany – make the province an excellent capital for wine tourism. Viticulture here is growing rapidly, and some massive-scale development is in the works to stimulate Shandong's wine tourism industry, with the hopes of creating a Chinese version of Napa Valley. The Yantai International Wine Exposition is an important annual event on the Chinese wine calendar and attracts interest and exhibitors from around the world.