Wineries from Paso Robles to Sonoma seek lucrative market in China
August 8, 2011
Not long ago wine drinkers in China would mix Coca-Cola into their wine glass to sweeten the deal. [Sacramento Bee]
“They didn’t like the taste of wine yet, and they wanted some sweetness,” said Joan Kautz, vice president of international operations for her family’s vineyards in Lodi, which has been shipping to China for almost 15 years.
As more Chinese begin to drink wine, however, they’re turning to California wines without cutting it with cola.
“Their taste preferences have evolved. It’s a population that’s becoming more affluent, they’re Internet-savvy, they’re reading up and wanting to embrace Western culture,” said Kautz.
California vintners are raising a glass to this news, and concerted efforts in Lodi, Napa, Sonoma and Paso Robles are dovetailing with statewide campaigns to crack the lucrative Chinese market. Scattered wineries throughout Sacramento and the foothills are also pursuing sales to China.
The potential is alluring. In 2011, sales of imported wine in China are projected to surpass $1 billion, up from just $60 million in 2004, said Frank Gayaldo, a Lodi wine grape grower and international wine broker.
France, with its long tradition of winemaking, dominates the export trade to China, and Italy and Spain are also significant players, Gayaldo said.
The United States has a minor share—about 5 percent of that market—with California representing 90 percent of the U.S. wines being exported.