China Wine Bars: Pudao & Wine Republic in Beijing, Weeknd in Shenzhen

A few things heard through the grapevine about the China wine bar scene.

Pudao Wines, the brick and mortar division of Wajiu, which absorbed veteran importers and distributors Summergate and Torres last year, will make its official return to Beijing this Saturday.

Pudao followed its Shanghai wine bar and shop, originally called The Wine Way, with a Beijing branch in October of 2011 in The Office Park, featuring hundreds of wines from Summergate and a smattering from other distributors. It also had 16 wines in enomatic machines, with the lineup rotated monthly. And able management in the form of Jim Yang and Hector Jiang.

The venue closed in June of 2019 due to, according to then CEO Craig Aldous of Summergate, the expiration of the lease, after which the space became a hair salon.

Now Pudao is returning to Beijing, to Zhongjun World City, with a grand opening this Saturday afternoon. Word has it that the shop will start with around 300 different wines, obviously heavily skewed to offerings from Wajiu (Summergate / Torres). I’ll post more after a visit.

Meanwhile, Campbell Thompson of importer / distributor The Wine Republic has invested in TRiO, the wine bar founded by Layla Wang, Ashley Gao and Jeanne Zhao in the summer of 2021. According to a TRiO post, Wang will remain in the picture by returning to Beijing several times annually to help out.

The Wine Republic was founded in 2008 by ex-ASC Fine Wines marketing director Thompson and The Rathbone Group of Australia, which operates wineries Mount Langhi Ghiran, Yarra Valley and Xanadu, with a focus on cool climate wines. Rathbone sold its share in 2016 to the family of Thompson’s partner Hou Honglan, one of China’s most famous ballet dancers.

Finally, in Shenzhen, natural wine bar The Weeknd is almost set to return to action in a new venue. The original venue opened in OCT Creative Garden in March of 2020 with a focus on natural wine that will be sustained in the new space, although paired with a much bigger food menu. Expect a modern airy venue with a heavy emphasis on wood–natural!–when the new The Weeknd opens near Honey Lake in Futian.

Even so, nothing will replace the memories of that wild 100-bottles plus natural wine party at The Weeknd after the opening day of Wine to Asia last year!

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