In early November, Veronafiera, the event organizing company of Vinitaly, has organized the first edition of Wine2Wine in Verona. It is a business forum dedicated to wine business which puts the evolution of trends and growth opportunities in the spotlight. A total of 26 workshops were held with different topics such as marketing, law and finance in the wine business sector. They were hosted by more than 100 business leaders and wine experts invited from all over the world.
Among them, “The New Faces of the Chinese Market”, presented by Yang Lu, Director of wine of Shangri-La Hotel, Judy Chan, the president of Grace Vineyard, Suny Zhang, chief editor of Pinor Sommelier magazine, Yanni Wu, the organizer of WINE100 Challenge, has caught great attention by the Italian wine professionals. These enthralled attendance are bewildered by the recent influences to wine business and market in China under President Xi Jinping’s anti-extravagance campaign.
After a warm welcome and brief introduction of the speakers by Stevie Kim, the director of Vinitaly, the hot topics was elaborated by the speakers on stage. “Chinese wine market is no longer the ‘El Dorado’ that we saw back in 2008. You have to plan a long term market strategy in order to succeed,” Yanni Wu warned with the support of the latest market data. Sunny was unable to join the forum in person, but have prepared a presentation video, she echoed with similar observations, “the booming growth was stalled by the political environment but thanks to that, China is on its way to develop into a real wine-drinking culture and we will see an emergence of wine consumers with more knowledge.”
Judy Chan, however, showed that selling wine in China is far from challenging compared to running a vineyard when she shared her experiences of managing the family estate, Grace vineyard, in Shanxi, one of the only few top boutique Chinese estates. “Establishing a vineyard in China is strewn with all sorts of challenges which cause much headaches to everyone,” she continues, “one of the examples which is common here is that it is almost impossible to get virus-free vines in China, so the only way is to propagate our owns in nursery.” She also mentioned the difficulties when dealing with different organizations to smooth the daily operations.
Yang Lu followed with his talk focusing on “High-end On Trade Market: the Good, and the Bad”, explaining the immaturity of this exciting new market. “We will squeeze the price and ask for incentives. It’s normal, so be ready for this,” he cautioned, not hesitant to dole out advices, “Just by listing in a 5-star hotel doesn’t guarantee sales at all, though it gives marketing value. Wine by glass or banquet wine sales are what you need to strive for.” With his presentation drawing to an end, the attendees started to piece together a general picture of wine market in China, which is as attractive as it is daunting.
最後，中國首席侍酒師呂楊以他對高端餐飲業葡萄酒銷售多年的經驗，分析此渠道的利與弊，及這個尚未十分成熟的消費模式。他分享了這個市場的黑暗面：「這個市場很會壓價，同時又要求額外的報酬，因此大家要準備計算這些成本。而且，就算你的酒在五星級酒店的酒單內，具有一定的市場價值，但也不就是銷量的保證。反而杯裝酒（wine by the glass）及宴會酒款更加會是生意的重要收入。」大家在聽過一連串的解說後，對這個方興未艾的葡萄酒市場有了更多的了解。
The two-day event has drawn more than 1000 Italian wine professionals. Thanks to the success of Wine2Wine, a global outlook on the wine trade is brought to Verona and lessons were definitely carried home.
(Published in the January 2015 Issue of Cru Magazine)