Its wines might not be as celebrated in China as imports from France or Australia, but the 30-year-old winemaker Dynasty has taken great pains to cast itself as the country's premier label. As a joint venture with Remy Cointreau, Dynasty has consistently fallen back on its part-French heritage, a message that has resonated with a growing number of Chinese wine drinkers -- many of whom know little about grape wine aside from its association with France. Apparently the company is doing something right in its home country, as Dynasty recorded growth of 9% and US$191 million in sales in 2009. To put the company's growth into perspective, last year Dynasty sold 57 million bottles of wine in China, a significant leap over the 100,000 bottles it sold in 1980, its first year of business.
In an attempt to further burnish the brand's image, recently Dynasty opened a European-style chateau near Tianjin that houses a wine museum, event and conference venues, and of course winemaking and tasting space. A sort of stylistic mash-up of the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre, and a German castle, according to Dynasty Chairman and Executive Director Bai Zhisheng, Chateau Dynasty hopes to help Chinese consumers "understand wine culture and identify good wine," and "will also organise various regular exhibitions and workshops on French and Chinese wine, food and culture to build up a platform of wine tasting, promotion, trade and storage for wine lovers in China.”
In the past year, Dynasty has increasingly set its sights on international markets, stepping up overseas promotion and participating in the recent Vinexpo Asia-Pacific conference in Hong Kong. The winery also ramped up its production capacity, and is expected to produce over 90 million bottles this year alone. While its wines still enjoy a less-than-stellar reputation among the world's top wine experts, Dynasty recently announced it's in the process of scouting vineyards in Australia, New Zealand, Chile and France for purchase, not only to increase its credibility among Western drinkers but -- possibly more importantly -- to secure higher-quality grapes and acquire more old-world expertise to ensure it's got a steady flow of wine to supply consumers back home.