Changyu winery, China's oldest & largest, is helping lead the modern wine revolution.
What's the buzz on the Chinese wine boom?
In the grand scheme of things, the fact that China makes wine is really nothing new.
What is making tantalizing headlines is how quickly they're coming up to speed to dominate the worldwide wine market.
China has been producing wines for centuries. The earliest records date to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.). but wine was a precious commodity used only in sacred temple rituals and in the palace of the Emperor.
The modern wine industry was only established when the Changyu Winery opened in 1892 and was awarded gold medals and a Grand Prize at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 -- for a brandy, a red wine and a Vermouth.
Updated wine making methods and a greater variety of grape vines were only introduced in the 1980s, but the road to breaking into the competitive world of wine production proved to be a challenge. (Chinese wines tended to be either extremely high in alcohol or very sweet, and within China proved not as popular as beer or other drinks.)
Hong Kong native Judy
took over as
CEO from her father at Grace Vineyard in 2002.
As the 21st century Chinese economy has grown, however, the demand for higher quality wines has opened up both an importing industry and a domestic wine market that is beginning to get noticed outside the "Grape Wall".
In fact, Chinese wine is once again winning awards, most notably in 2011 with a prestigious Decanter trophy bestowed upon wine from the Ningxia province that is signaling China's enormous potential in the international wine scene.
And it's not just in the Ningxia region (now the largest in wine production). Other major wine producing areas in China include the North East (home to the Changyu Wine Culture Museum) , Hebei, Bohai Bay and the Shandong wine region, the Yellow River area, Yunnan, Gansu, and Xinjiang.
Boasting an incredible mix of terroirs and terrains spanning more than three million square miles, China is researching more ideal wine making regions from coast to coast. That is, with the help of foreign investors as outside interest in the Chinese wine industry reaches fever pitch.
Today, with a billion-strong population developing a taste for the grape, French winemakers are currently opening wineries within China's borders, and Australian investment in the region is growing -- with government encouragement.
"Time will tell," as they say around the vineyard, but by all accounts it will only take a mere few decades before this sleeping giant begins to dominate the global wine market and win the hearts of wine lovers worldwide.
More about Chinese wine around the Web:
China Wine Online - This site carries the latest updates on the Chinese industry along with descriptions of the major wine growing regions, the history of wine production in China and other interesting info.
Grape Wall of China - Updated blog posts on everything you ever wanted to know with insider views of the industry through the eyes of consumers, winemakers and wine reviewers.
Chinese Wine - Wine Searcher.com report on the emerging market for Chinese wine with more on the terroir and climate in major growing areas and wine regions.