Although eighty-three percent of the wine China drinks is produced domestically, and baijiu grain alcohol is still its favorite alcohol, that’s changing. China is now the world’s fifth largest wine producer. In The California Sunday Magazine, Amy Qin writes about the changing taste of Chinese drinkers, and profiles Ma Qingyun, one producer who is helping change the face of the country’s fine wine industry:
When Ma started Jade Valley, he was drawn to the idea of saving the village from the fate of so many rural Chinese areas. As China’s cities have expanded and new ones have emerged seemingly overnight, traditionally agricultural regions have been eaten up by urban and industrial sprawl. Ma envisioned a beautifully designed winery that would provide high-paying architectural jobs and draw tourists to the Yushan area, giving it a better chance of fending off Xi’an’s encroaching development.
He pitched the idea to his brother. After years spent working as a technician in a military garment factory in Xi’an, Jianchao had returned to the village to set up a small business growing and selling traditional Chinese medicine. “I knew nothing about wine,” Jianchao says. “I only knew about industrial enterprises — input, output, and raw-material processes.” But as the two brothers talked, Jianchao grew enamored with the idea of helping farmers and bolstering the local economy.