French Winemaker Builds Winery in China

Looking to capitalize on the Chinese thirst for wine, Rothschild starts to build its first winery in Asia

The Europeans and Chinese are sharing a glass of wine or two: French winemaker Rothschild, producer of Lafite wines, has broken ground on its first winery in China, while the Chinese are buying European wineries in record numbers.

Rothschild, which has researched possible grounds for a winery in Asia for 15 years, has invested nearly £10 million in the new project, says The Drinks Business. It's no surprise that the winemaker is looking to invest in the booming Asian market; wine production in the region has increased to 140,000 tons since 2005. Plus, China has passed the U.K. in wine consumption, becoming the world's fifth biggest consumer of wine. Said a Shanghai-based analyst about the growth: "The world's top luxury brands are all very interested in the Chinese market, Rothschild is no exception." One small glitch in the love between Rothschild and the Chinese: counterfeit wines from Beijing.

And now, the Chinese are grabbing the European wine market by the horns. One Hong Kong firm said it has sold £6 million in Bordeaux vineyards to Chinese investors, and one state-owned trading company, COFCO, bought the Château de Viaud vineyard for £10 million. The Chicago Tribune reports that Chinese investors are looking to transform the châteaux into luxury resorts.