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U.S. Wine Makers Eye Growing Chinese Market by Li Shaotong 28/03/2016  


The U.S. state of California is American's largest wine producer. Now wine makers in California are eyeing the Chinese market which has seen a surge in wine consumption in recent years.


CRI's Luo Wen has more.

China is now the fourth largest market for California wine makers.


Last year, China imported U.S. wines worth 71 million U.S. dollars.


Camille Zanette, manager of Asia Market of Constellation Brands, believes wine makers should try to cater to Chinese customers' needs, as drinking wine is getting more popular in China.


"I think we have to adapt to a market and be there where the customer shops, and adapt to the demand. Every country is very different, so we have a different approach. I think they like full-bodied wine, and Robert Mondavi's wine goes really well with Chinese cuisine. So I think it is still new for some people in China to drink wine, but it is becoming more popular."


Many vineyards in California are ready to meet the growing demand for wine in China.


One 50-year-old winery has been selling on China's e-commerce giant Alibaba's T-Mall since last year.


Winemaker Seth Kunin says the wine industry is gradually changing with more young people and wine experts from countries like China getting involved.


"The environment has changed in the culture, in the marketplace. So the land has literally changed, but also, the market has changed a lot, the young consumer here, the millennial they call it, are drinking a lot of wine. Before young kids either they did not drink, or maybe they drank beer."


Lindsey Gallagher, marketing director at the California Wine Institute, says that they should thank France for introducing wine culture to China.


"France has been very dedicated to the China market for a very long time, and we are all very thankful for France for the investment they have made, for the number of French people who have come to China, and visited and spent time in the market. That has helped start the wine market, but now it is given an opportunity for the rest of the world, wine producers from California and all other parts of the wine producing world can now come to China and have a dialogue."


To further promote American wine to China, some wine producers in California have started to work with Chinese partners.


The Napa region in California has a high-profile Chinese ally in former NBA player Yao Ming, who started Yao Family Wines in 2011 after retiring.


Yao buys grapes from Napa for his signature Cabernet Sauvignon, which is aged in oak barrels for 18 months.


The company sells about 6-thousand cases, 12 bottle cases, each year worldwide and about 50 percent of wine the company makes is sold in China.


For CRI, this is Luo Wen.