As China’s wine industry continues to grow and mature, more and more Chinese students are traveling to Bordeaux, in southwest France, to get an education in wine in order to enter the fledgling Chinese wine industry.
At the INSEEC business school, known for its wine and spirits program, Chinese matriculation has grown so quickly that the school has had to turn Chinese students away. In the school’s wine marketing division, 13 percent of the students are Chinese.
At Cafa, a private school that trains students in the hospitality sector, almost 48 percent of the students in the sommelier program are Chinese.
“Ten years ago, it was novel for a Chinese person to work in wine. Today, it is a sector like any other, ripe for business,” INSEEC director Laurent Bergeruc told China Daily.
The wine industry in China has experienced explosive growth, growing 136 percent in just the last five years. Last year, Chinese drank 1.865 billion bottles of red wine to become the world’s top consumers of red wine. Overall, China is the fifth-largest consumer of wine in general, behind France, Italy, the United States, and Germany.
Though many of the first Chinese students to these schools were wealthy, many of them now are middle-class and hold down jobs during school to pay for tuition that ranges from 3,800 euros to 20,000 euros. That may seem like a steep price, but graduates from Bordeaux wine schools are highly in demand by employers both in China and in Bordeaux, where Chinese investors own 100 chateaux.
With Xi Jinping’s luxury crackdown, and the increasing knowledge of Chinese wine drinkers, the Chinese wine market has moved away from the high-end, lavish banquet sector to the middle-class. The move downmarket is not a bad development for wine producers.
“We expect 37 million adults to come to drinking age in China within the next five years. This is actually more than the entire population of Canada,” said Vinexpo head Guillaume Deglise.
Currently, France is the leading supplier of imported wines in China, producing 14.5 million cases for the market in 2013, followed by Australia with 4.1 million cases.
image credit: inseec wine institute