French Wine Producers And Chinese Travel Agencies Teaming Up To Promote Wine Tourism In France
Last month, we posted on the Sotheby’s auction of fine wines in Hong Kong, at which 100% of the bottles up for grabs sold, mostly to local Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese buyers. Over the past few years, as wine drinking has grown in popularity in China and the buyer base has grown accordingly, vineyards from around the globe have intensified their efforts to crack this vast yet still niche-oriented market.
While these vintners’ dreams may still be a bit naive in terms of the macro-level Chinese market — as BusinessWeek reflects with a quote by a Californian winery owner, “If we sold a bottle of wine to every Chinese millionaire, we’d run out of wine before we ran out of millionaires!” — it is a fact that Chinese buyers of fine wines are quickly joining the ranks of other global buyers, and companies from travel agencies to vineyards are keen to get in on this burgeoning business.
At this year’s SIAL Shanghai conference, China’s largest Food, Beverage and Hospitality exhibition, B-to-B companies like China Elite Focus are working to pair Chinese travel agencies with French wine producers, in the hopes of cashing in on the growing oenophile base in China. According to a press release, companies like China Elite Focus want to build up “wine tourism” — a growing industry that has already enjoyed surprising success in Japan and the US — in China. While many wine tourism operators have begun to target New World wine centers in Australia, Argentina, Chile, the US or South Africa, it appears that Chinese companies like China Elite Focus are only interested in France, apparently trying to tie their tours to the “romantic” image that France holds for many Chinese.
Chinese wineries have started to get into the wine tourism business as well, with companies like China Wine Tours offering tours in Xi’an, Yantai, Beijing, Shanghai, and Taigu. Although China’s wine industry is not well-promoted outside of the country, recent joint ventures like Chateau Lafite’s new vineyard in Shandong indicate that wine is quickly becoming a lucrative industry in China. From auctions of historical and vintage wines in Hong Kong to new vineyards in Shandong to wine tours in France and China, it looks like calls for “pútaojiǔ” will become more prevalent in restaurants throughout the Middle Kingdom.