CHAPTER I: Introduction
Few things signal civilization and sophistication more than enjoying a fine wine with an excellent meal. It may be asserted that China is the world’s oldest continuous civilization. One of the features of its culture is that Chinese cuisine serves up superb meals. Until recently, however, fine wines have been absent there, at least wine made from the noble grape.
In many ways, we live in a golden age for wine. The wine world has many exciting new wrinkles from fancy new mobile applications to devices that allow us to extract a glass of wine from a bottle and then return it to the cellar to rest for a couple of years without changing the character of the wine. With all the current trends and innovations, it is the best time to enjoy wine. This is certainly a special age, in the words of renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson: “The irony is that just as the difference in price between the best and worst wines is greater than it has ever been, the difference in quality is narrower than ever before.” Perhaps one of the most pervasive reasons for this truism, which Robinson so eloquently captured, is the globalization of the wine industry. One cannot fully understand the global wine industry of today without developing a deeper understanding of its largest and fastest growing player: China.
Though starting relatively late historically with grape wine production and consumption, China has been catching up quickly. China’s role in the global wine industry continues to grow at an astonishing pace. Wine consumption in China doubled between 2008 and 2013 when China became the fifth largest consumer of wine in the world. At the end of 2013, China became the world’s largest market for red wine, and China is projected to become the second most valuable market for wine in the world by 2020 (behind the U.S.), which will have a profound impact on various aspects of the global wine industry. These are significant statistics for anyone who has a serious interest in the global wine industry.
To feed the rapidly rising consumption, the domestic production in China has also increased at an amazing rate. China now has more than seven hundred vineyards, compared to 240 in 1995. As of 2018, China is projected to have the second largest area of wine grapes planted in the world and to be the seventh largest producer of wine.
While wine has deep roots in Western culture, China has a rich history of wine production which dates back to millennia before Christ. However, it must be stressed that this tradition is almost exclusively rice wine. The production and mass consumption of grape wine is a recent phenomenon in China. A 2015 poll found that 96 percent of young adults in China select wine as their favored alcoholic beverage. This book examines the development of the Chinese wine industry in a historical context and explains how the Chinese grape wine industry has exploded in the last two decades. We will explore the fascination with European Grapes in China and the explosion of the import and consumption of Vitis vinifera (the most important wine-grape species in the world) in China and the historical precedent for that. We will attempt to answer burning questions such as: What changed to make China wine-crazy? How can a tourist enjoy unique wine experiences in China? Why is mass wine production and consumption a modern phenomenon? Why are there not a lot of Chinese wines exported to the United States and Europe?
 Quoted in George M. Taber, A Toast to Bargain Wines: How Innovators, Iconoclasts, and Winemaking Revolutionaries Are Changing the Way the World Drinks, 1st Scribner ed (New York: Scribner, 2011), 1.
 Vinexpo Newsroom, “China Is a Leading Wine Market of the Future,” Vinexpo Newsroom – Wine & Spirits News by Vinexpo (blog), April 4, 2017, https://www.vinexpo-newsroom.com/china-is-a-leading-wine-market-of-the-future/.
 Suzanne Mustacich, Thirsty Dragon: China’s Lust for Bordeaux and the Threat to the World’s Best Wines, First edition (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2015), 56.
 “State of the Vitiviniculture World Market” (International Organisation of Wine and Vine (OIV), April 2018), http://www.oiv.int/public/medias/5958/oiv-state-of-the-vitiviniculture-world-market-april-2018.pdf.
 Can Akalin and Lawrence Lazar, Wine in China: Insights on a Burgeoning Industry in an e/m Commerce Context, 2 edition, Kindle Edition, (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015), Location 89.
Title: Inside the Chinese Wine Industry
Author: Loren Mayshark
The wine business is one of the world’s most fascinating industries and China is considered the rising star. A hidden secret, the Chinese wine industry continues to grow at an amazing pace and is projected to soon enter the top five producing nations, supplanting long established countries such as Australia. Inside the Chinese Wine Industry: The Past, Present, and Future of Wine in China takes you through the growing Chinese wine scene.
Wine has had a meteoric rise in China over the past two decades. The nation is projected to become the second most valuable market for wine in the world by 2020. One recent study concluded that 96% of young Chinese adults consider wine their alcoholic drink of choice. Not only does Inside the Chinese Wine Industry explore current expansion and business models, it journeys back to the past to see where it all began.
There are more than seven hundred wineries in China today. Although it’s bit of an oversimplification, the vast majority of the wineries fit into one of two categories: the larger established producers who churn out mostly plonk to meet the growing demand for inexpensive wine and the newer wineries that try to cater to the tastes of the wealthy Chinese with money to spend on luxury goods like fine wine. In the words of wine guru Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, “The cheap wines from the very large producers have mostly verged on dismal.” However, this should not be considered a blanket statement regarding every wine from large producers. Also, she has positive reflections regarding the level of wine produced by “cutting-edge wineries” which she finds “far better.” How good are they? MacNeil asserts: “Some of these wines are so good they could easily pass for a California or Bordeaux wine in a blind tasting.”
Loren Mayshark studied Chinese art, religion, philosophy, and history while earning a B.A. in history from Manhattanville College in New York. After graduation, he attended The Gotham Writers Workshop and the prestigious New York Writers Workshop. He has written about the Chinese wine industry for The Jovial Journey and Sublime China.
After college, he supported his itinerant lifestyle by working dozens of jobs, including golf caddy, travel writer, construction worker, fireworks salesman, substitute teacher, and vineyard laborer. Predominantly his jobs have been in the restaurant industry. He cut his teeth as a server, maître d’, and bartender at San Francisco’s historic Fisherman’s Grotto #9, the original restaurant on the Fisherman’s Wharf. While working with a colorful crew of primarily Mexican and Chinese co-workers.
He spent much of his young adult life exploring the wine industry from Sonoma Valley to the North Fork of Long Island, immersing himself in vineyards and learning valuable lessons. He has traveled extensively in South America, Europe, and Asia. He presently splits his time between Western New York and Sweden.
His first book, Death: An Exploration, won the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award in the category of Death and Dying and was a finalist for book of the year in the 2016 Foreword INDIES Awards in the category of Grief/Grieving (Adult Nonfiction). Inside the Chinese Wine Industry is his third book.
For more information visit his website: lorenmayshark.com.
Keep up with him on Twitter: @LorenMayshark