Why China’s Austerity Push Is Good for Its Burgeoning Wine Industry

on October 1 2014 | in Wine & Spirits | by | with No Comments

Times — and wines — are changing in China in the wake of the government’s austerity push.

Chinese wine was once known for its strong and often unpleasantly oaky flavors, the result of winemakers’ attempts to copy the wines of Europe. Distributors catered to government officials, and many of their best wines never reached the general public in Beijing or Shanghai. Since the government’s crackdown on luxury spending, however, vineyards are focusing their efforts on creating new and more sophisticated wines for a new group of consumers.

“It has forced distributors to give up that easy cash. They have to find new clients,” Jim Boyce of Grape Wall of China blog tells The Wall Street Journal.

Tyney is one of many winemakers from around the world who have been recruited by local authorities in Ningxia in northwest China to develop a new array of wines with tastes that are subtly, sophisticated, and uniquely Chinese. Others from South Africa, France, and New Zealand have also joined the effort.

“[Ningxia] produces very good quality grapes, there’s no doubt about that,” Tyney says. “I’ve already sent samples back to New Zealand and I’ve tried it with my winemaking friends in New Zealand and Australia and they’re very impressed with the quality.”

Ningxia wines from 2012 and 2013 were showcased in a government-sponsored contest in Beijing recently. Such events will help “raise the region’s winemaking profile” and more firmly establish a consumer base for winemaking, which is still a young industry in China.

Dorian Tang, the national education manager at ASC Fine Wines tells the WSJ that fine domestic wine prices, which may range from 600 to 800 yuan ($98 to $130) a bottle, could drop and be on parity with similar imported wines as the country’s tastes grow and develop.

image credit: changyu

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