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Destination: Chateau Mani – a wine lover’s dream (Yeongdong-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do)

November 15, 2012 - Chris Backe

YOU know you’ve arrived in wine country as soon as you get to the train station. The engraved stone murals (above and below) are both found within the station, as are a number of wine bottles and barrels.

I love the dimensionality of these figures.

Getting there is straightforward enough – once at the train station, cross the street and turn left, then head to the bus stop. It’s easy enough to see from the road – once you’re there, you’ll know it.

Approaching the entrance entails passing by the empties – hundreds of dark bottles, hundreds of light bottles, and a handful of green bottles.

The two tour buses out front were an indicator that larger things were afoot. Instead of having the run of the place, we found ourselves suddenly outnumbered by tourists enjoying a day trip. They were up to their calves in a hot wine foot bath (we declined the invitation), so we continued to meander.

The Oak Cellar Cave – plenty of noise coming from one side as some construction was taking place. In the other half, however, we found the wine mellowing and aging quietly:

While you can walk through the barrels, there’s nothing else to see down here – time to retreat.

Not pictured here is the wine foot baths located between the cellar and the gift shop – several of them, each able to hold 8-10 pairs of feet.

Plenty of wine on the inside – and a gentlemen used to handling foreign guests was quick top provide tastings. Four wines were offered in all, including a raspberry wine with some brandy in it. While the raspberry wine was strong and sweet, it was pretty decent. One of the white wines was pretty good, so of course I had to pick up a couple of bottles… For later, of course….

A ‘slow food’ restaurant with an ample selection of wines (SHOCK of a lifetime, I know). No one’s interested in dinner at a quarter to five, so it’s a bit on the empty side…

It’s not off the beaten path, but it’s still an interesting journey nonetheless. Save the ‘Sideways’ jokes for the Wine Tunnel in Cheongdo, and pick up some wine while you’re in the area. As the day trip goes, it looks interesting enough, but get your money’s worth of the free wine on the train!

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks - How do I rate destinations?):

Ease to arrive:

Foreigner-friendly:

Convenience facilities:

Worth the visit:

Address: Chungcheongbuk-do Yeongdong-gun, Yeongdong-eup Jugok-ri 44-1
Korean address: 충청북도 영동군 영동읍 주곡리 44-1
Directions: Take a train to Yeongdong station. Once at the station, cross the street and take a left. Walk towards the bus stop, then catch a bus for Daehae (대해) or Imsan (임산). It’s a 10-15 minute bus trip, although a taxi makes the trip easy enough.
Hours: 10am-5pm
Admission: free. Bottles of wine cost 8,000 won and up. If interested in the day tour and are willing to be one of the token foreigners, it’s 85,000 won for the all-inclusive trip. That includes all-you-can-drink wine, snacks, round trip train tickets, a foot massage in wine, and so on.
Phone:  043-744-3211 (for the aforementioned day tour from Seoul, call 02-3149-3333 to make a reservation).
Website: http://www.winekr.co.kr

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