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California wine industry eyes growth in China

www.xinhuanet.com by Xinhua09/03/2018  

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SAN FRANCISCO, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The wine industry in the U.S. state California is enthusiastic about expanding sales and tourism in the lucrative China market, an expert said Wednesday.

Christopher Beros, Asia director of the Wine Institute of California (WIC), told Xinhua that the market for California wines in China was growing very rapidly.

"The number of imported wine drinkers in China has increased from 19 million in 2011 to 48 million in 2016, and I see that trend continuing over the foreseeable future," he said.

"I think that's going to happen in the next 10 years at a very rapid growth rate," Beros added.

"Ten years ago, a lot of wine sales in China were focused much more on business gifting, weddings on that kind of thing, and it wasn't really what I'd call a consumer-driven market," he noted.

Today the market is much more focused on consumers, he explained, saying wine has become more popular during dinner.

"They have it at home, they have it with their friends, do it for themselves, not doing it to show face," he said of the change in the lifestyle of young Chinese people.

"Even there are many young professional women who are really interested in wine and drinking wine. They are very experimental, and they are trying a lot of different types and they are very open-minded about it," Beros said.

He said the market for California wines is growing very rapidly and in 2016 there was a 48 percent increase in the value of California wines being exported to China.

Beros was leading a group of professionals on a promotional tour to a winery in Napa Valley, a renowned Californian wine-producing region, about 107 kilometers north of San Francisco in western California.

He said the WIC is an association of 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses that initiate and advocate public policy to enhance wine culture among local and foreign visitors.

Connie Gabriel, a wine educator with the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, said more and more Chinese tourists were coming to visit the winery, and their sales were so brisk that they had to provide two Chinese-speaking staff members to cater to the increasing needs of visitors from China.

A tour guide from a travel agency West Coast Holidays in San Francisco said she takes busloads of tourists from China and other regions in Asia to Napa Valley, where they can savor the unique taste of premium California wines.

"Even those who do not drink wine are happy to come and have a look at the famous home of California wines," she said.