No land of Lafite, but it's still early days
While the quality of China-made wine, and the range of imported options, has improved enormously in recent years, it remains at a dismally low level.
Vague regulations on content labelling often make it difficult to establish the provenance of locally made wines, while imported bottles are subject to swinging tax rates. Nonetheless, there is general industry agreement that the future looks bright: among the major wine-world names taking the market seriously is the renowned DBR Chateau Lafite, which has set up a winery with the mainland investment arm, Citic.
The winery is near the town of Penglai, on the Shandong peninsula, a region that hosts almost 50 wineries. The highly rated Grace Vineyard lies further west, in Shanxi province, with Silver Heights winery in the even farther-flung Ningxia province.
'It is still very early days - the industry is undergoing amazing growth,' says Hong Kong-raised Marcus Ford, who runs an upmarket wine bar and retail outlet, Pudao, the Wine Way, in Shanghai. 'There is a lot more competition, lots of opportunities and lots of challenges. People in China are experimenting more.
'There is tons of rubbish out there. Good progress has been made by people like Emma Gao, and Grace Vineyard, who have invested in quality, but a lot of Chinese wine is still pretty poor and poorly regulated.'