So it seems that you might expect there to be no wineries in Hong Kong (given the lack of grapes and everything!) – but then two come along at once! The AWA had organised a tour and tasting and after being so impressed by the wine at Portrait a few weeks ago, I thought it would be good to go along and try some other locally produced wines.
There seems to be a bit of a theme in Hong Kong of finding things in the place where you would least expect them and the 8th Estate winery, on the third floor of an industrial centre in Ap Lei Chau is no exception. If you didn’t know it was there, there was no way you would simply stumble across it! We came out of the lift, walked down a concrete corridor and then found ourselves in a cool barrel room that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in a chateau in France.
The 8th Estate targets the more local market throughout Asia and as a consequence the wines are a lot sweeter than most of us were used to. I tried my first ever rose wine deliberately intended to taste like cherry flavoured boiled candies (according to the official tasting notes so nothing to do with my wonky palate!). It was also extremely pink in colour – which you can see from the photo, if you drunk too much I would worry it would stain your tongue! (In the interest of balance the red wines were pretty lovely however). In the middle of the tasting there was a tour and an explanation of the process – the grapes are flash frozen at the vineyard before being shipped to Hong Kong in a temperature controlled container. They are defrosted at the winery at room temperature before continuing the familiar wine making process. It seems there are two main advantages for the winery of producing locally – (i) wine doesn’t always travel well and (ii) tax – import tax on wine is high, but there is no tax on locally produced wine meaning much more of the bottom line can be attributed to the wine maker in Hong Kong!