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Chinese celebrities getting a taste for wine investment by 29/01/2012  


Wine investment could be becoming a new celebrity craze in China.

Former basketball player Yao Ming is launching his new Napa Valley wine company in China, charging 3,800 yuan (£382) a magnum for a 2009 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon to private buyers.

Meanwhile, founder of Chinese internet company NetEase, Ding Lei, has investing in a wine trading company that imports wine from France. According to China Daily, the investment is a personal hobby and not for business purposes.

The popularity of fine wine in China is expanding. Wine investors are looking further afield than Bordeaux first growths and buying up super seconds and wine from other regions such as Burgundy. Now it is celebrities who are getting a taste of the action and taking advantage of the growing market in China.

Indeed, it was reported last year that Chinese movie star Zhao Wei is considering buying a winery in Bordeaux.

Marketing expert Shu Guohua told the news provider that celebrities are investing in the wine market for commercial value and to maintain public awareness.

"For Yao Ming," she said, "it was a good marketing strategy to create his own-brand wine.

"However, it will take a long time for customers to recognise the intrinsic value of the wine and believe it is worthwhile buying."

In the past, large Chinese-owned companies have bought up Bordeaux chateaux, with the first being Chateau Latour-Laguens by the Longhai group.

Now, there are a handful of smaller, struggling chateaux that have been bought by Chinese investors, some of whom plan to target wines produced in France specifically for the Chinese market.

The BBC reported last October that some Chinese companies are even building wineries in the country that are made to look like French chateaux and vineyards. While the terroir of Chinese soil might not be the same as Bordeaux, parts of the country do have a similar climate.