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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tunnel of Love: The Persimmon Wine Tunnel in Cheongdo

One of the most pleasant day-trips from Daegu is a visit to Cheongdo’s Persimmon Wine Tunnel. Persimmons, one of Korea’s most popular autumn icons, serve to announce the end of the fall season here. The fruit, flush with vitamins A and C, is renowned in Korea for its benefits to skin and health, including providing help with bronchitis, diabetes, high blood pressure. It’s even said to be helpful in dealing with cancer (certainly check with your doctor on this stuff!).
Light display inside the Persimmon Wine Tunnel in Cheongdo
Perhaps even more surprising was to learn that persimmons can produce a rather intriguing wine. And, as the intrigue continues, in Korea one can find the world’s first persimmon wine cellar in the form of a former train tunnel over 1,000 meters long. The tunnel, built during the Joseon Dynasty, was constructed between 1896-1904, as part of the old Gyeongbuk Railway Line.
As good fortune would have it, tunnel conditions are perfect for the aging of persimmon wine. The temperature stays at 15˚C  (59˚F) and between 60-70% humidity–which means that a visit during the summer months (especially) is wonderfully refreshing. Actually a visit to the tunnelanytime is comfortable. There is a pleasant eating area in the tunnel which serves cheese, fruit and, of course, delicious wine.
Great spot for enjoying your persimmon wine with some cheese and fruit
The whole atmosphere is rather low-key. And once I sipped the persimmon wine I was smitten! It has a soft, sweet taste, a near magical golden-orange hue and is a wonderful partner to almost any cheese or fruit. The tunnel, first opened in 2006, has plenty of free parking. Pleasantly enough, admission is also free, making this a hard-to-resist adventure just a hop, skip and jump from Daegu.
Friendly vendor selling dried persimmon and other persimmon products outside the tunnel entrance
And while you’re in Cheongdo, another fun experience is the nearby Bull Fighting Arena–about a 10-minute drive from the wine tunnel. That makes for two amazing destinations, in one special locale, only a short distance from Daegu.
Group reservations for the wine tunnel should be made 2-3 days in advance. FMI contact 82-54-371-1100. Operating hours are 9:30-20:00. Parking and admission are both free.
Getting There: Trains depart Dong Daegu Station for Cheongdo Station about every 20-30 minutes. The first train is 6:00, the last train is 23:16. Travel time on the train is about 20 minutes. Once at Cheongdo Station, take a taxi to the Wine Tunnel.
Post written by: Steven Schuit

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