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    Int'l winemakers tipsy on China market opportunities
    来源:China Daily  2023-06-26 10:28 作者:

    Nowadays, premium wine is often included as part of the stylish and leisurely lifestyles of those looking to enjoy life. As Chinese wine wowed attendees at a just-concluded wine expo in Northwest China, more international wine producers are looking at the huge market potential of the country.

    As the country's largest wine-producing area, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region has emerged as a rising star on the global wine map after more than four decades of development. On June 11, this year's International Conference on Grape and Wine Industries and the third China (Ningxia) International Wine Culture and Tourism Expo came to an end in the region.

    During the exhibition in Yinchuan, the regional capital, 75 wineries from 16 countries and regions including Germany, France, Chile, Moldova and Spain, presented visitors with their new products in a special exhibition area for international wine brands.

    "I did not doubt that these fine German wines would delight visitors, also in comparison with other international wines. I would be delighted if it could expand our bilateral trade relations with China in the field of wine," said Cem Ozdemir, minister of Germany's federal ministry of food and agriculture.

    Themed "Nature, Innovation, Culture and Ecology" this year, the event offered a unique platform for exploring new growth models for the global winemaking industry and sharing new opportunities for international cooperation.

    Representatives of enterprises in the industry from over 30 countries and four international organizations were invited to participate in the expo. According to Mauricio Hurtado, Chile's ambassador to China, China has been one of the biggest importers of Chilean wines. For more than two decades, numerous Chilean companies and brands have established a presence in the Chinese market.

    "It is very important for us because the consumption of wine here is growing every year. One of the most important Chilean wineries is here to promote their products because they see that this market is very important for us," said the Chilean official.

    More than 1.4 billion people in China have embarked on a new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects, releasing huge potential for consumption, with total wine imports worth $1.44 billion by China last year alone.

    "Every day, nearly 1 million liters of wine are imported into the Chinese market from all over the world, and many well-known enterprises have come to invest in China," said Tang Renjian, minister of agriculture and rural affairs of China, at the opening ceremony of the event. "China has grown to be one of the most dynamic markets for the global wine industry."

    Apart from traditional winemaking powerhouses, some African countries are also aiming high in the booming Chinese market. Wine culture, education and national brand development are the key factors in expanding the presence of South Africa's wine in China, according to Thoko Didiza, minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development for the Republic of South Africa.

    "We've seen encouraging growth in the Chinese market of South African wine. We all know that China has emerged as a powerhouse in the global economy, with a rapidly growing middle class and a growing appreciation for wine. This presents a tremendous opportunity for South African wine producers to expand their reach and tap into this vast market," Didiza said.

    While many are boosting their high expectations for China, more have already come to invest.

    Ningxia's long hours of sunshine and its cool and dry climate have both greatly aided local grape cultivation. The region boasts a unique "terroir" — a term used in the wine industry to refer to the natural conditions for making top-class wine products, attracting 228 wineries from home and abroad. Its annual wine output reached 138 million bottles in 2022.

    Though a latecomer in the winemaking sector compared with members of the International Organization of Vine and Wine, China has once again updated its record of medal wins at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2023, one of the world's largest wine competitions. A total of 274 wines from 14 wine-producing areas in China were awarded medals, a 17 percent increase from the previous year. Ningxia triumphed with about 40 percent of the medals, leading other areas in terms of quality in China.

    "The decision was based on the careful investigation of the quality of China's wine production areas, and the Helan Mountain region was found to be the best," said Hua Min, general manager of Pernod Ricard (Ningxia) Winemakers Co Ltd.

    The French-based brand Pernod Ricard built the branch in Ningxia in 2012, with vineyards of 6,000 mu (400 hectares) in the region. Workshops for fermentation and bottling were also set up in Ningxia.

    "With a good performance of the grapes planted here, we mainly produce still wines in the region," Hua said, adding that high quality is the common target for all the wineries both in China and France, while the different terroirs of the production areas can make a difference.

    China has always been one of the key markets for Pernod Ricard. The company has shown great confidence in and firm determination to develop the Chinese market by investing and building a winery in China. The company has also built a whisky plant and reception center in Southwest China's Sichuan province, Hua added.

    "With the gradual post-COVID-19 market recovery and the boom of 'China Chic', Chinese wines are getting more and more attention. We will continue to improve our wine quality and contribute to fulfilling the domestic industry's goal of 'Chinese Wine, Surprise the World' together with local wineries in China," he added.


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