A Peek Inside the Taichung Winery

By Chen Ni-ang Translated by Cheryl Robbins

The Taichung Winery must be somewhere near the top of the list when it comes to little-known tourist attractions in the city. However, this interesting plant, together with its well-planned tourist facilities and museum, make it well-worth a visit.

Taichung Winery was originally located in an old brick factory on Fu Hsing Road behind the train station. This building had been a city landmark since the Japanese colonial era. However, much of the winery's facilities were outdated and unable to be upgraded to meet the demands of modern industry and commerce. Thus, the facility was moved to its present location in the Taichung Industrial Park in July of 1998.

This new facility is much larger than the old one, covering 21 hectares, and houses state-of-the-art equipment and automated management systems. In another change from the old factory, where all of the products were manufactured behind closed doors, the new industrial park winery is open to the public.

In addition to the manufacturing areas, there are a number of scenic spots including gardens, a museum and product exhibition center. In the museum are exhibits about the history and development of Taiwan's wines and spirits, including production equipment used in the past. In addition, the process of choosing raw materials such as barley, wheat, sorghum and rice is introduced to visitors.

For groups of 20 or more persons, reservations can be made in advance for a guided tour of the manufacturing facilities. The tour educates about the steps involved in producing various kinds of hard liquor including cleaning of the wheat, barley or rice, cooking, fermentation, distillation, extraction, aging and packaging.

The product exhibition center, which just opened last January, is very popular. Here, visitors can sample and learn about many of the winery's products. For example, Yuher Ever Health Chiew (NT$600) contains 22 Chinese herbs. Ms. Liu, who works in the product exhibition
center, says that is seven more herbs than in the best-selling herbal wines from Japan. She claims that Yuher Ever Health Chiew will cure whatever ails you and, if you're not sick, will add years to your life. Although this is one of the unique products of Taichung Winery, it is not heavily advertised because production capacity is only 36,000 bottles per month--due to the complicated manufacturing process.

Another product, Horng Hoar Chu (NT$280), undergoes three different brewing processes. It is probably a good choice if you are planning on getting drunk as it supposedly does not cause a nasty hangover. It can be served hot or cold and its light taste makes it perfect for mixing in cocktails. Yi Lu High-grade Distilled Liquor (NT$350) is made from wheat and contains 40% alcohol.

There are also other products made at the winery which use wines and spirits produced at the site, including "liquor eggs", plums marinated in liquor, "liquor rice pudding", "liquor jelly" and Yuher Ever Health Chiew rice pudding popsicles. Much of the research and development was done in Puli. However, when the Puli Winery collapsed during the 9-21 earthquake, some of the staff from that facility moved to Taichung to continue working on new products.

Also on the grounds of the Taichung winery is a very large auditorium. When not in use, it can be rented for trade shows or other events. For example, in September, Nike will be holding a product exhibition there.

Obviously, there is a lot to see and do here, from strolling in the gardens to learning about the history and production of Taiwan's traditional wines and spirits to visiting special
events. It is worth mentioning that it is still possible to purchase secondhand ceramic vessels that were used for storing liquor at the old Fu Hsing Road site. These are the large vessels that are often found on farms in the countryside or in places that are trying to recapture the nostalgia of Taiwan's past. For more information about how to purchase these vessels, call 04-2222-2017.

Taichung Winery
2, Taichung Industrial Park 28th Road
Tel: 04-2350-1318
Hours: 8 am-5 pm daily


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