As the Chinese wine market grows, so does the country’s interest in California’s Napa Valley.
Located north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is one of the most highly regarded wine regions in the world. Wines produced there and in surrounding regions are exported to 125 countries, and China is becoming a major player in the market.
According to Lindsey Gallagher, vice president of international marketing for the San Francisco-based Wine Institute, exports of wine from California to China reached $70 million in 2013, and have increased by 300 percent in the past five years.
“In California, we produce wines for a global palate and also for the European palate, which is more constrained,” Gallagher said in an interview with China Daily. “The Chinese prefer a fruitier wine.”
Since China’s wine market is still young, consumers tend to prefer wines with more sugar because they are easier to drink. California’s micro-climate and soil allow for the production of the wines with “flavors of ripe fruit, candied fruit with aromas of violets” that are so attractive to Chinese consumers. Chinese oenophiles also enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon, a “bigger and bolder” red wine.
“A California wine such as zinfadel goes great with Western food and also traditional Chinese food. It does well in China as it is food-friendly with light hints of sweetness,” Gallagher says.
China’s relationship with Napa Valley is quickly becoming more intimate. According to Charles Kimball, owner of Chinese Napa Tours, four vineyards in the area already have Chinese owners. For instance, Quixote Winery, a vineyard known for its Petite Syrah, recently sold for $20 million to Jinta Vineyards and Winery, a Chinese company.
“The Chinese presence in Napa will explode in the next five years,” says Kimball. “This is only the beginning of the influx.”
image credit: doreeno