China Wine Press: January 2024

The Grape Wall Press

A Regularly Updated Roundup of China Wine Stories


“Hong Kong Customs team uncover $63m cocaine smuggling bid”

“Senior superintendent Wong Ho-yin and superintendent Lui Chi-tak said that, acting on intelligence, customs officials singled out a 20ft container that had arrived from Brazil on 19 December.

“A total of 444 kg of suspected liquid cocaine, worth $63m, had been packed in 148 transparent plastic bags. The container was said to be filled with cartons of red and white wine. The drugs were found in 37 of the 706 cartons.”

[Well, the wine industry does put a lot of stress on “value-added.”]

“[Australian] wine workshops to prepare for China re-entry”

Wine makers, grape growers and exporters will be invited to participate in a series of workshops in preparation of the outcomes of the review of wine tariffs imposed on the South Australian industry by China… Delivered by a team of experts, the workshops will provide the latest updates on the lucrative China market across topics including economics, wine market conditions, market access and entry, legal considerations and cultural awareness.”

[Does the ‘cultural awareness’ part include reading the signs for future tariffs?]

“Wine imports crash in China, spirits imports now 2.5 times bigger”

“The bad news is bottled wine imports in China fell 17.6% by value and 29.1% by volume in 2023, a year we hoped would deliver a big rebound after three years of ‘zero-COVID’ restrictions from 2020 to 2022.

“The really bad news is this crash isn’t part of a similar disaster for imported alcohol in general, as both spirits and beer performed far better, and that underscores that wine faces a particularly serious crisis.”

[In case you missed it, my recap of China’s 2023 import stats, with some charts, too.]

‘China’s love affair with Bordeaux properties is ending

“Within a short time, however, Larteau had been renamed Imperial Rabbit and Senilhac was rebranded as Château Tibetan Antelope.  Eyebrows were raised higher than Mont Blanc, and many predicted this obvious gimmick would fail…. It turns out they were right: Chi Keung Tong sold his acquisitions to a French duo in 2022.”

[“Love conquers all things except poverty and toothaches,” claimed Mae West. We can also include the costs of running a Bordeaux chateau.]

‘Australian wine could ‘very soon’ flow into China: PM

“’I expect a resolution that will allow for wine to be back into China very soon,’ he told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.

“’It’s in Australia’s interest, but it’s also in China’s interests.’

“’You know why? Because it’s bloody good wine, it’s a good product, Australia produces good products at good prices, and it is into the world’s interests to receive them.'”

[Could just be me but maybe this ‘rah rah’ kind of talk helped get Australia into this mess?]

‘Spain’s wineries and winegrowing regions should… join forces

“Spain’s wineries and winegrowing regions should shelve their differences and join forces to put Spanish wine brands first, Xu Julian, head of the Alilian winery, the only Chinese-run winegrower in Spain, told Xinhua in an interview on Tuesday.

“‘The image of Spanish wines as cheap and low quality is changing. Simply because a wine is French, it sounds better to a Chinese consumer. This is what we have to achieve, and not only in China but everywhere, and it is a long-term objective,. said the oenologist and manager of the Alilian winery.”

‘China Starts Investigation Into EU Liquor

  • Bloomberg | Jinshan Hong, Julien Ponthus, Dong Lyu, Kevin Whitelaw, Fran Wang & Yujing Liu.

“China is launching an anti-dumping investigation into liquor products like brandy from the European Union, in a relatively modest step after the bloc opened a probe last fall into its electric vehicle subsidies.

“The investigation, which Beijing said was prompted by an application from a domestic liquor association, targets French cognac, a niche but lucrative product in China for producers like Pernod Ricard SA and Remy Cointreau SA, and sent their stocks plunging. France was the main backer of Brussels’ probe into Chinese EVs, with French carmakers Renault SA and Stellantis NV particularly exposed to the threat of imports.”

‘China targets EU brandy in tit-for-tat anti-dumping probe

  • Reuters | Casey Hall & Dominique Vidalon

“It was prompted by a complaint submitted by the China Alcoholic Beverages Association on behalf of the domestic brandy industry, the ministry said.

“China imported $1.57 billion worth of spirits from distilled grape wine in 2023 through November and France accounts for 99.8% of all EU brandy exports, according to Chinese customs data.

“Trade disputes between China and Europe have been mounting over the past year, with both sides exchanging accusations of unfair competition and protectionism. Most recently, the EU said in December it would begin an anti-dumping investigation into biodiesel imports from China.”

[China Alcoholic Beverages Association refers to CADA, the China Alcoholic Drinks Association, the same organization that pushed for the investigation that led to heavy tariffs on Australian wine.]

‘Accolade Wines restructure looms but China no golden ticket

“The restructure of Australia’s second-largest wine company [Accolade] – owned by The Carlyle Group and with a portfolio of brands including Hardy’s, Croser and Banrock Station – is vital for a reset of a business that has been labouring under heavy debt levels.

“[KPMG partner Tim Mableson] said the resumption of exports to China was unlikely to be a catalyst for an immediate return of the good times, and pressures would still be fierce in the commercial segment and the under $10 per bottle category.”

‘Archaeologists unearth 7,000-year-old bottle

“A rare type of bottle dating back more than 7,000 years has been unearthed at the Peiligang site in the city of Xinzheng, Central China’s Henan province, providing archaeologists with the earliest dated artifact of its kind in China…. Li says that, in combination with the prior discovery that the settlers of the Peiligang site had already learned how to use red yeast mold for fermentation and brewing wine, the newly discovered bottle could possibly have been a container used by the ancestors for making yeast.”

‘Glass bottle manufacturers accused of dumping in the US

“The US International Trade Commission (ITC) alleges that a total of 46 glass manufacturing companies – 36 from China, seven from Mexico and three from Chile – have sold their wine bottles in the United States at less than fair prices.”

For a more details look at the case, see this post by Adams Lee at China Law Blog. Also see this recent Xinhua story on the carbon footprint of glass wine bottles.

“China Turns its Hand to Whisky”

“The coming Year of the Dragon might also be deemed Year of the Dram-gon given how fast China’s local whisky industry is taking flight.

“There are nearly 50 major projects spread nationwide, from Yunnan in the south to Inner Mongolia in the north, from Qinghai in the west to Shandong in the east.

“The range of owners includes global drinks firms like Diageo and Pernod Ricard, major producers of baijiu – China’s national spirit – like Gujing and Yanghe, crossover companies like brewery Qingdao Beer and winery Grace Vineyard, and pioneering distilleries like Goaling and Daiking.”

Sign up for the Grape Wall newsletter here. Follow Grape Wall on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And see my sibling sites World Marselan DayWorld Baijiu Day and Beijing Boyce. Grape Wall has no advertisers, so if you find the content useful, please help cover the costs via PayPal, WeChat or Alipay. Contact Grape Wall via grapewallofchina (at)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply