Guz Zhu first China national to get MW, joins Julien Boulard, Edward Ragg in new class

Eight new Masters of Wine were announced today and three have links to China. One is a Chinese national, the first to complete the MW, and is based in the United States. Two are European and based in China. A bit about each of them.

Gus Zhu | Zhu Jian | 朱简

Zhu graduated in horticulture from China Agricultural University and studied with professor Ma Huiqin, who recommended him to Beijing-based consultancy Dragon Phoenix, where he worked / taught for five years with co-founders Fongyee Walker and Edward Ragg (see below).

Zhu then headed to California, where he completed a MSc in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis and spent time at Cakebread Cellars and Hall Winery. Zhu runs Gus Zhu Wine Consulting and is the first “born and raised China national”, as he puts it, to become an MW.

Julien Boulard

Nanning-based Boulard came to China from his native France to study Mandarin in 2003. He later became interested in wine while working for an importer in China. Fluent in Mandarin, Boulard gained a strong social media following. He runs wine education firm Zhulian Wines and regularly judges at contests. (He’s among the ten “unsung heroes” in this Meininger’s Wine Business International piece.)

Edward Ragg

UK citizen Edward Ragg started the Beijing-based consultancy Dragon Phoenix in 2007 with wife and fellow MW Fongyee Walker. He is a former captain of the Cambridge blind-tasting team and is qualified to teach the WSET diploma in continental China. He does a lot of judging. More on Ragg here.

There are a further dozen-plus China-based candidates now in the MW stream. Wine education is big business in China, to say the least, which ranks as a top-three market for leading course-provider Wine & Spirit Education Trust. According to WSET, “the Mainland Chinese market grew +20% with 18,206 annual candidates.” This comes at a time when sales of local and imported wine have been shrinking.

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