China’s new wine lovers: affluent millenials drinking more

China’s new wine lovers: affluent millennials drinking more, turning to France, Chile, and Australia

China MillenialsWealthy young Chinese, having acquired a modicum of savoir-faire and a taste for liquid luxury, are becoming game changers in one of the world’s biggest wine markets, prompting the country’s top wine merchants to also become providers of wine education.

This burgeoning army of wine aficionados offers a glimmer of hope for vintners, who have been battered by Beijing’s crackdown on extravagance and the mainland’s slowing economic growth.

“I am amazed at how much young people like me are in love with wine,” said Yang Yanlin, the 25-year-old founder of a job search website who also runs wine courses in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. “We launched this programme in 2014 for our friends, and new faces kept turning up.”

Most of his more than 120 students, who paid about 4,800 yuan for a 16-hour wine appreciation course, were mainland Chinese professionals in their 20s or early 30s, ranging from banking analysts to tech engineers.

 Read more here.

The explosive growth in Chinese wine consumption is also told in  RED OBSESSION Trailer | New Release 2013 – YouTube David Roach, Warwick Ross, 2013, Australia, FilmBuff USA Russell Crowe narrates this intoxicating documentary about the world-famous winemakers of Bordeaux, and how the rapidly expanding Chinese market for the legendary vintage is irreparably changing the nature of the French wine industry.

The question is why has  growth in Canadian wines to China slowed?

Chart courtesy of Tulloch Vineyards Ltd.
Chart courtesy of Tulloch Vineyards Ltd.

Admittedly the data is several years old (don’t get be started on the lack of current BC Wine Industry data) but the growth rate for the export of BC wine to China has definitely slowed.  There are a number of reasons for the export slump.  The experience of most BC wineries exporting wine to China has been dissapointing:

  • Traders have historically been driven by lowest price, not quality.
  •  Ice wine producers have been damaged by counterfeiters “manufacturing” ice wine.
  • It is challenging to  receive timely payments from Chinese traders which can strain the winery’s cash flow.
  • Competition from Wineries shipping poor quality BC wine

Why has Australia & Chile been more successful

Australian wine is popular due to its close shipping proximity and low prices, and Europe has long been perceived by the Chinese as the original producer of wine, hence guaranteeing high quality.

As in other Asian countries, Chilean wine has been making a huge impact at the volume end of wine sales. Mineral-rich Chile has cunningly signed up favourable trade agreements that give it big advantages over many of its competitors (3).

Simply, their larger volume of wine shipments means they can more cost effectively market their wines in China.  One BC winery that has been sucessful exporting is Meyer Family Vinyards.  Read their success story here.

It will be interesting to see if BC Wineries can rise to the challenge of the Chinese wine market in the future.


  1. Tulloch Vineyards Ltd. Corporate Overview July 2015.
  2. South China Morning Post – “China’s new wine lovers: affluent millennials drinking more, turning to France, Chile and Australia”
  3. Financial Times – China’s growing pains – Jancis Robinson 
  4. Financial Post  – Vintners act to block counterfeits as China’s thirst for Canadian icewine grows

One comment

  1. Hi Julian, thanks for the article, and for giving us a credit! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head as to why sales appear to have plateaued. And, you’ve been brave enough to mention sub-standard products produced by some wineries, and you know the culprits. I myself saw 6 plastic containers of red wine sit in the hot May sun for four hours at a winery this May. That wine, surely truly cooked, will be sold to unsophisticated consumers in China. Sigh. FYI, Tulloch will be representing a number of wineries commencing this Fall. These markets are too big to be ignored, are growing more and more sophisticated, and have the money to spent. But for 95% of the wineries, it is simply too complex to build export sales, and that is where we fit in.

    Stuart Wooldridge, CEO
    Tulloch Vineyards

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