Grape expectations

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A few of us may have been tempted to raise a glass on the news that China has just squeezed past France as a wine-growing region.

WiC looked in detail at China’s growing influence on the global wine business in The Little Red Book last November, and Chinese wines scored rather well at blind tastings we hosted shortly afterwards.

Data last month from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) seemed to suggest that the challenge from the East is intensifying, with the Chinese now reporting 799,000 hectares (1.97 million acres) under vine – a fraction more than the French, and trailing only Spain’s 1.02 million hectares of vineyard.

About 166,000 hectares of new vines were added in China over the past three years, the study suggests. In the same period, the total area under vine grew by 57,000 hectares worldwide, while Europe’s vineyards shrank by about 104,000 hectares. But as Jim Boyce, author of wine blog Grape Wall of China, then pointed out, this doesn’t mean that China has taken over from France in wine production. Why? Most of its vineyards are devoted to growing table grapes and raisins, and not to producing wine. And the same study from the OIV shows that wine volumes from France are still about four times greater than from China.

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