Wine imports to China are up 200 percent in five years, says Rabobank, a bank that specializes in providing financial services to farmers and ranchers, among others. "Wine is well-positioned for the future."
Bruce Cakebread of Cakebread Cellarsrecently returned from a trip to China. He showed off a business card printed in English on one side, Mandarin on the other.
"We see that the China wine consumer is learning more and more about wines," he tells CNBC. "We think that this is pretty exciting."
Chinese wine drinkers have traditionally favored reds, but that is changing, Cakebread says. "We're also seeing some of the young Chinese wine drinkers also being interested in white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and Riesling."
The interest from China comes at a time when American wine lovers may see Napa prices rise. There’s been a smaller than expected crop over the last two years, and some winemakers predict there could be a shortage of wine for as many as five years.
Rob McMillan of Silicon Valley Bank says farmers slowed down planting during the recession and now demand has returned.
"We need to probably plant something around four or five percent minimum a year to keep up with growing demand and replenishment of vines," he says. "We haven't been doing that for some time."
With Chinese interest only enhancing values, does this make Napa wine a better investment now? McMillan isn't so sure. "The best way to invest in wine is probably to drink it."
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