China's Wine Industry Ripens as Local Thirst Grows

Despite the growing demand for foreign wine, China is now one of the top five growers of grapevines in the world. The wine produced in China is sold in mostly the domestic market, and although a majority of the wine may not be up to international standards, there is an effort to produce more quality wines. Reuters reports:

“Every time I get to China, I try and get together the best wines that are being made. When I first went into that exercise, I think it was in 2002, it wasn’t very inspiring at all,” Robinson, a Master of Wine, told Reuters Television on the sidelines of an international wine conference in Hong Kong.

“But actually last year, I was very heartened because I tasted several wines that I thought were quite respectable.”

Demand for wine in mainland China, which has grown rapidly over the past few years, remains strong, helping to keep Hong Kong a pre-eminent global wine hub even as global economic uncertainty cuts demand for luxury goods.

The Wall Street Journal also reports on how Chinese buyers are pushing up the prices of French wines at auctions:

Harpers Wine and Spirit Trade Review also looks at the expected rapid growth of the wine market in China while pointing out some of the problems in the market:

Imported wine now accounts for 16% of the market and has seen a 60% increase in volumes in the last four years, according to Don St Pierre Jr, chief executive of Chinese importer, ASC Fine Wines.

But the growth in the market for imported wine has been matched by a “decrease in professionalism” for how wine is distributed and managed in China, warned St Pierre. This has resulted in a massive rise in smuggled wine via Hong Kong and the increase in counterfeit wine.

Ford said the number of importers had tripled since 2006 but was still struggling to “keep up with demand” of wine, particularly for imported wine across China.

The market, said St Pierre, was “messy” and “confused” and that the established Chinese wine market was lobbying the government hard to bring in tighter regulations governing the control and distribution of wine across China.

For more on the Chinese wine market, see previous posts from CDT, including reports on a scandal involving dangerous chemicals being added to wine and another claiming to expose the dirty secrets of China’ wine industry. See also an interview with the president of one of CHina’s most successful wineries.


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