largely to the relaxation of the state-run Taiwan
Tobacco & Liquor Corporation's grip on local
liquor production, Central Taiwan has seen the
recent establishment of several wineries and vineyards.
Most of the spirits being produced are made from
local fruit, and consumers are almost certain to
find something that pleases their palates. Below
is an introduction to some of the latest options.
Winery (04-22705991) Taiping, Taichung County
This winery uses seasonal fruit to produce its own full-bodied liqueurs.
The sweet litchi liqueur, named Guifeilianyi, or "Guifei Ripple," and
the white, 48-proof litchi wine, both preserve original litchi flavors.
There is also a nice longan fruit wine. For a milder, more traditional
taste, try the "Cecong Jiu" made from Taiwanese onions or chives.
Despite its strong aroma, it has a taste reminiscent of orange soda.
Open since February 2004, the Taiping Winery also provides a do-it-yourself
service for those who want to make their wine at home.
ShuSheng (04-26833298) ShuSheng, Houli, Taichung
Their "President Memorial Wine" uses local grapes, plus blueberries
imported from New Zealand, producing a slightly acidic taste. ShuSheng
Superior Wine has a full-bodied bouquet with a taste of chocolate and
the sweetness of pine, which goes well with stronger-flavor dishes. The
Golden Muscat White Wine is an elegant wine with a sweet-and-sour taste.
The excellent and reasonably priced "Enjoy" is one of the more
popular brands. For a something sweeter, try the ice wines with a sweet,
fruity grape flavor.
Cheng Chateau(049-2870399) Checheng, Nantou County
This winery uses a Japanese favorite--the Shuili plum--in the fermentation
process to produce the 12-proof Tiedao Gongzhu, or "Railroad Princess" liquor,
best served chilled. There is also the popular, 19-proof CheCheng Laozhanzhang,
or "CheCheng Station Manager," using ripe plums as the main
ingredient and is completed with crystal sugar and storage at low temperatures.
The 29-proof Liechezhang, "The Engineer," is distilled three
times, resulting in a clear plum liqueur fermented at low temperatures.
Plum Winery (049-2791949) Xinyi, Nantou County
Due to its location next to the New Central Cross Island Highway and
its considerable size, this establishment is hard to miss. It produces
six types of distinct spirits. One, the 2002 Kuangye, or "Wilderness" liqueur,
is 40-proof and combines natural spring water from the foot of Yushan
with specially selected plums for the fermentation process.
Ranch and Winery (049-2821900) Yiqing, Nantou County
This place allows visitors to make their own wine from green plums and
Jufeng grapes and store it over a long period. Yuemei, or "Beauty
of the Moon" liqueur, is 11-proof and requires two year's fermentation
before being bottled and stored in a wine cellar. Huolie "Fire" plum
liqueur, is 45-proof and stored for one year, then distilled at a high
Agriculture Village Chateau (049-2423828)Puli,
Situated next to scenic Carp Pond, the Puli Village Chateau specializes
in wine made from blossoming or flowering trees. Their first product
was the 16-proof Zhenqing Meigui, "Roses of True Love." Sugar
cane is used as the main ingredient and steeped in specially selected
rose petals, while the low-temperature storage brings out a nicely-colored
rose wine with a rose fragrance and pleasant taste. Other wines are planned.
Tangerine Grove Winery (04-25771028)Dongshi,
This tall, two-story, circular building resembles an orange seed. Opened
a few months ago, the winery uses fresh tangerines in the fermentation
process. The 12-proof Juxiang Xianzi, "Fairies of Tangerine Village," is
a delightful, refreshing drink. The Juxiang Ganquan, or "Juxiang
Sweet Springs," has a slight bitter, acidic taste reminiscent of
one's longing for home and suitable as an aperitif. The winery's interesting
circular tower gives good views of the entire winemaking process.
of these wine and liqueur producers have a lot
to offer and, if you visit them, you'll certainly
be impressed by the unique experience of viewing
the fermentation process. Whether this interests
you or not, a visit to the vineyards offers an
excellent opportunity to sample locally produced