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Master of Wine Fongyee Walker on the Challenges Facing the Chinese Wine Industry

Offering a fascinating look at the inner workings of the Chinese winemaking industry, Master of Wine Fongyee Walker highlighted the many business challenges facing producers in a Zoom talk hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong. 

“There are people making terrific wine, but who do you sell it to?” said Walker. “You’re trying to sell a premium product to a market that almost doesn’t exist — it’s a huge challenge.”

Speaking with FCC President Keith Richburg, who moderated the discussion, Walker explained that wine drinkers in China tend to gravitate towards bottles from regions like Burgundy and Bordeaux, while other Chinese only drink baijiu. 

To build up international demand for their wines, Walker said that Chinese producers should open high-end Michelin-star Chinese restaurants in major capital cities.

“For a Western audience, wine and food is indivisible,” said Walker. 

In spite of these challenges, Walker had many positive things to say about Chinese wine, including the superlative wines coming from regions such as Shandong and Yunnan. 

She also highlighted one other thing that makes China unique: its wine industry features many women in positions of power, unlike the rest of the world.

“The most female-friendly wine industry in the world is in China” said Walker.

Watch the full discussion below:

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