After clothes, cell phones, and solar panels, could China take over the wine world as well? To find out, we take you along our China wine adventure, to meet the farmers, entrepreneurs, and teachers who are rocking the wine world. Along the way, we explore wine tourism hotspots from the high mountains of Yunnan to the Ningxia desert, we ditch the Terra Cotta Warriors for a 4D wine movie, and we desperately try to make others fall in love with our favorite Chinese wines.
Our book, Adventures on the China Wine Trail, published with Rowman & Littlefield, came out in February 2020, at a strange time when all travel stopped! There are some pictures in it, but you can follow us on social media for more! The book is available here and also here, both in paper and eBook format.
Award: Winner, Gourmand International’s “Best in the World” in Wine and Spirits Tourism 2020
The authors bring readers on a wine-soaked journey through Chinese wine production that educates as well as elucidates. . . The determination of farmers and entrepreneurs to succeed gives this book its overall positive tone. A wonderful read.
This coming-of-age tale of China’s fledgling modern wine industry is unfolding in front of our eyes. Vivid storytelling, laugh-out-loud witticism, intellectual rigor, sharp observations, and thought-provoking questions for the future—it is as if I am with Cynthia and Pierre on their adventure. This book is informative and relevant for the here and now and will become a time capsule of the Chinese wine industry that relates a most fascinating period in its development—let us all bear witness and participate in its growth story!
— Janet Z. Wang, author of The Chinese Wine Renaissance
Written in a smart, conversational style with flashes of humor, Howson and Ly’s intrepid investigation is an excellent primer on the complexities of China’s ambitions in wine.
— Suzanne Mustacich, author of Thirsty Dragon
Wine made in… China? Until recently, for most people, at best, it didn’t exist. At worst, well, some ideas came to mind. It was only a few years ago that wine writers left a trail of memorable tasting notes: “ash tray, coffee grounds, and urinal crust,” or, our new favorite, “a smell of baked dead mouse!” So, imagine the world’s surprise when at 2011 Decanter World Wine Awards, a 2009 Chinese red blend from Ningxia province won Best Bordeaux Blend over Ten British Pounds. That couldn’t be real. Some skeptics went as far as to question the authenticity of the wine, or even the integrity of Decanter Magazine, accused to play a secret business agenda. There had to be a better explanation than the wine being delicious. Because otherwise, oh my, it could be the start of something all too familiar by now. First it was our socks and T-shirts, then, steel, and next thing we knew, Chinese cell phones, laptops, heck, even solar panels were everywhere. Could China take over the wine world as well?
What happened? How did we get from largely ignoring the idea of wine made in China, to gold medals and praise by famous critics, in less than a decade? In this book, we take you along our excellent adventures on the China wine trail, to meet the farmers, entrepreneurs, and teachers who are rocking the wine world. Maybe, just maybe, there’s nothing to be scared about after all. We will travel to Chinese wine tourism hotspots and show you how much fun they can be, sometimes in a weird sort of way. We will talk to winemakers who face no shortage of headaches in their quest to get their hands on good wine grapes. We will take you to green, lush mountains at such high elevation that your shampoo bottle might explode, and then to a desert, to see what French multinational corporations have in common with small Chinese farmers. Then, it will be time to go back to school, Chinese wine school, of course, to meet teachers, and their students eager to join the wine workforce. And in case you travel to China but really can’t make it to the wineries, we’ll reveal where we bought those local wines we love, and even a few places where you can enjoy them by the glass, with a good meal. Finally, we’ll tell you what happened when we subjected thirsty participants to blind tastings of Chinese wines. And what if, soon, you could buy some closer to home, even if you never make it to the Middle Kingdom?
Our choices of stories, wines and destinations were often shaped by what time and budget allowed, as well as serendipitous encounters. We don’t pretend to provide a comprehensive list. But we hope that our stories will get you curious about Chinese wines, help you understand the people behind them, and be a starting point for your own China wine adventures.