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The Maturing of China’s Wine Industry

on 11/02/14 at 8:34 am


imagesChina’s wine industry, and its citizens’ appreciation of wine, has come a long way since the days when sweet and fruity “half-juice wine” would be served at state banquets and diplomatic dinners.

Today, not only are Chinese drinking better, they are also drinking more.

So much so that China is being blamed for the deepest global wine drought in nearly half a century as demand outstrips supply.

This reflects China’s huge increase in annual wine consumption, which has risen fourfold in the past five years to around 1.5 billion bottles, with the country expected to become the world’s largest consumer of wine by 2016.

China is also producing more wine, buoyed by international wine companies’ investment in the local industry, and has become the world’s eighth-largest producer, ahead of Australia, Argentina and South Africa, with more vineyard hectares than the US.

New wineries and chateaux are appearing all the time in regions such as Ningxia, in the northwest of the country, including resorts with street signs shaped like wine bottles.

Just how good is Chinese wine?

Despite China’s vast size, there aren’t many good places for growing grapes. Areas that are dry enough to allow grapes to grow without succumbing to mould and disease are also extremely cold in winter, forcing farmers to bury their vines to protect them in winter.