Media: “Shanxi takes on wine world”

Thanks to GS for forwarding a South China Morning Post article about China’s Grace VineyardShanxi takes on wine world – by Mark Graham (registration required). I think these two paragraphs sum things up:

In less than five years, Grace Vineyard, located in out-of-the-way Shanxi province has not only turned into a profitable venture, it also is producing vintages that are being accepted on to the wine lists of the Peninsula and Shangri-La hotels.

It is a remarkeable success story, especially given the challenges of setting up a vineyard from scratch in such a hardscrabble region.

Grace CEO Judy Leissner – check my April interview with her – stresses Grace’s low volume. “We produce 500,000 bottles a year compared to the 100 million bottles of the major producers such as Great Wall, Changyu and so on. We are serious about wine.” She also notes that a second vineyard is planned.

The dominant picture in the article shows an elderly picker, cigarette dangling from his mouth, holding a container of grapes. It serves to underscore that while China’s market for wine develops, huge inequalities exist. As SCMP puts it:

Few people in Shanxi itself would be able to afford even the cheapest, HK$68 wine in the range; peasants living nearby would need to splurge several months’ wages to buy the top-of-the-shelf Chairman’s Reserve, that retails for HK$488.

Grace fared well both in my first blind tasting of Chinese wines and in my second (the notes will soon be posted). It also came out on top in a major blind tasting in Shanghai. And this weekend, I’m planning to try the winery’s Deep Blue — which is 60 percent Merlot, 30 percent Cabernet Franc and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, which is not yet on the market, and which – fingers crossed – holds the promise of being among the best wines ever to be made in China.

Torres distributes Grace wine.

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