China is now the world's fifth largest wine consumer and was crowned the top consumer of red wine last year having drunk 1.865 billion bottles. The Asian Super Power has become the second-largest vineyard area in the world after Spain, pushing France into third place. According to Beijing Business Today, Penglai in The Shandong Province of China is now one of the world's seven major grape coasts, rubbing shoulders with Médoc in France, Tuscany in Italy, Napa Valley in the United States, Casablanca in Chile, Barossa Valley in Australia and Cape Town in South Africa. Many are surprised to learn that China’s wine history goes back to the Han Dynasty and it’s reported that The Emperor of the Tang Dynasty himself made wine in the Palace!
China is now the world's fifth largest wine consumer and was crowned the top consumer of red wine last year having drunk 1.865 billion bottles.
With a growing middle class and the fact that more and more Chinese are able “taste the good life” that wine represents, China is fast outpacing traditional wine countries both in terms of consumption and production. Modern Chinese wines are not even two decades old yet a few including Grace Vineyards, Skyling and Silver Heights have received international awards and honors yet many feel there still aren’t “ great Chinese wines". Besides the growing number of local wineries, China’s imported wine market is one of the biggest in the world which has helped fuel foreign wineries opening joint operations like Chandon and Lafitte in China’s wine growing regions. However, there are a few sour grapes to point out given the government’s austerity program cracking down on lavish gift-giving and a shift in market that is more consumer focused which puts “taste” ahead of any other factor in China’s growing wine economy.
In this episode of Crossover, we speak to Yang Lu, Wine Director at Shangri-La Hotels, Fongyee Walker of Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting, Judy Chan of Grace Vineyards, Jim Boyce of GrapeWallofChina Blog, and Professor Ma Huiqin on the changing business of wine in China.