Calipournia: California Wine Institute just launched a very smart tour in China

By Jim Boyce

Regional wine groups should keep an eye on a tour the California Wine Institute (CWI) just launched in China. This project goes far beyond the usual stops like Shanghai and Beijing and instead will feature master classes and consumer events in more than 20 cities in China. It started earlier this week and Chris Beros, the head of CWI in China, says the first three-city leg is already a big success.

“I think the key takeaways from the last two days have been, first of all, that turnout has been exceptionally good, much bigger than we expected,” says Beros.

He says the master class in Dalian attracted 68 attendees while the one in Yantai had 55. There are more than 85 people signed up for tomorrow’s class in Qingdao.

“Another takeaway is that Paul Hu, who is doing the training for us, was quite well received. I think he has a good program and a good pace. And the audience seemed to like him and respond well to his educational style, which  is much more engaging.”

(As noted in this post, CWI decided to forgo the usual strategy of outsourcing classes to high-profile educators and instead hired Paul Hu as in-house trainer. The goal is to deliver more class consistency and cost efficiency in areas such as course materials.)

“I think the final thing is that having a master class and then breaking down the room in the course of an hour and re-configuring it for a consumer tasting seems to be a very good model,” says Beros. “It’s very efficient. The people come to the master class and, in turn, invite their friends, the people they know, to come to the consumer event, so we get very good leverage.”

His overall impression?

“I’m convinced that this approach of doing the master classes combined with consumer events throughout China, where we actually organize the events and are not outsourcing the invitations and all that, is really going to accrue to our benefit and accrue to the benefit of the consumers and the wine industry people in each of these cities.”

And it taps into the growing wine scenes across this country, both in terms of the number of wine professionals and wine consumers.

Consider the China Young Sommelier Team Competition held in April this year in Qingdao. That event featured 21 teams from 11 cities, which might not seem like an especially big field. But that was narrowed down, through semi-final competitions across China, from an original group of 1200 sommeliers from 187 restaurants and hotels in 32 cities, says organizer Tommy Lam.

Thirty-two cities! At least 25 more than many regional trade groups have ever visited.

Here’s the current schedule for the CWI tour.

Week of 20 July 2015

  • Dalian, Yantai and Qingdao

Week of 17 August 2015

  • Shenyang, Changchun and Harbin

Week of 14 September 2015

  • Tianjin, Jinan and Hefei

Week of 12 October 2015

  • Kunming, Guiyang and Nanning

Week of 30 November 2015

  • Fuzhou, Quanzhou and Xiamen

Week of 01 March 2016

  • Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Haikou

Week of 18 April 2016

  • Xi’an, Taiyuan and Chongqing

california wine institute master classes and consumer tastings in qingdao dalian yantai china

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