Following the success of two Indian wines stocked last year for its "World of Wines" shelves, the British grocer Waitrose will soon sell wines from China and Brazil. Along with a sparkling Miolo Cuvée Tradition rosé from Serra Gaúcha, Waitrose will introduce British wine lovers to a Cabernet Gernischt from
. Hailing from the country's northeastern Shandong province, Changyu is China's oldest (established 1892) and largest winery.
Though not very well known outside of its native country, Changyu is currently the world's tenth largest winery, with annual sales of US$695 million. Over the past decade, facing greater competition from massive rivals like Great Wall and Dynasty, as well as smaller independent boutique producers, Changyu has looked to raise its international profile and tried to position itself as China's premiere winery. Currently employing European consultant Lenz Moser to oversee some of its development work, Changyu built the sprawling Chateau Changyu-Castel with French wine company Castel in 2002, followed in subsequent years by six other chateaux. By 2016, Changyu plans to open a massive "wine city" in Yantai, Shandong, covering an estimated area of 413ha and costing around 6 billion yuan (US$942.6 million). Comprising a research institute and wine production facilities and vineyards, the "city" will also feature its own "European-style village," two wine and brandy chateaux and an international wine trading center.
Though its planned wine complex is ostensibly aimed at a predominantly domestic audience, Changyu hopes to capitalize on niche, but increasing, interest abroad in what is happening in China's wine industry. As a wine buyer at Waitrose said of the British grocer's choice to include Changyu in its World of Wines program said, “We’re bringing in a new era of lesser known wines being sold in the UK as the interest in China, and more specifically the Chinese wine industry, continues to grow.”
We'll see whether that growing interest translates to sales when the Changyu Cabernet Gernischt will go on sale at Waitrose in the UK on August 28, retailing for £9.99 (US$16) per bottle.