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Raise a Glass for Grape Wall: Jim Boyce's Popular Local Wine Blog Turns 10

thebeijinger.com by Kyle Mullin03/07/2017  

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Whether you're partial to a full-bodied, rich bottle of red, or prefer a cool crisp glass of white wine on a hot summer day, Jim Boyce has done his damnedest to let you know all about Beijing's wide array of grape related happenings and offerings. The lifestyle blogger launched Grape Wall of China 10 years ago as a sister site to his earlier, broader F&B-themed Beijing Boyce blog, in order to zero in on all things wine.

"One goal was to post English-language coverage of China’s wine scene, something no one was consistently doing," Boyce wrote last week in a post announcing Grape Wall's decade-long milestone. He added that another early goal for the site was to "to improve foreign media coverage of that scene by connecting reporters to a list of contributors like locally based wine-makers, sommeliers, producers, and so on. Yet another was simply to find good local wines."

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Cheers' Masüger (left) and Boyce


One of the most prominent voices to quickly praise Boyce on his blog's longevity was Cheers Wines' founder Claudia Masüger. She told the Beijinger: "Congratulations to Jim Boyce on the Grape Wall's 10-year anniversary. Jim has done an amazing job covering the wine scene in China. His passion and persistence to promote Chinese Wines is deeply impressive!"

Yes, in the decade since the site's inception, Boyce has seen massive changes in that local wine scene. He tells the Beijinger that, at the time, “A lot of people were asking if there were any good Chinese good wines. Now people are asking which ones are the best. And I can remember struggling to put together a lineup then," which is far from the case now. Indeed, on social media Boyce pledged to write about "the 10 best Chinese wines of the decade, and more" as part of Grape Wall's ongoing coverage.

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Boyce, Beijing's most famous wine enthusiast


But aside from that, Grape Wall has also been a place for enthusiasts to dig into the nuances of China's wine scene. For instance, Boyce has not only recently written about the development of the Ningxia wine region, but also how it has been underestimated. He has also written about Changyu, China's biggest producer which has "built massive 'chateaus' across the country with an eye to wine tourism." Sadly, Boyce's coverage revealed that "that business is still yet to take off. My dozen trips to Changyu operations in three regions revealed few visitors save for couples taking wedding photos."

That leads Boyce to wonder if, despite its impressive strides, China's wine industry still “needs to keep up with the consumers. I keep seeing Chinese wineries endlessly plant Cabernet, and I see distributors tell me customers only want red wines,” though the wine tastings he has coordinated revealed far more eclecticism and sophistication among China’s wine enthusiasts.

Furthermore, Boyce insists that smartphones, apps, online commerce and more have "liberated" customers from such tired conventions. "We no longer have to rely on retail managers who only stock their shelves with particular local wines and Bordeaux. And we don’t need to rely on a few experts anymore, because we can find all kinds of wine recommendations online.”

That means Boyce is sure to have plenty more grape related fodder to blog about in the future. So here's to 10 more years of wine guzzling and writing from this sloshed of scribes.