Moet Hennessy has become the latest international winemaker to announce plans to set up a vineyard in China with the famed French company choosing a site that brings a little history of its own to the table.
After an initial announcement, last month, more details have emerged about the luxury alcohol label's plans in China. Moet Hennessy conducted research for three years before picking Shangri-La county in China's southwestern Yunnan Province as home for the vineyard, which will be established 2,400 meters above sea level with the help of Chinese partners Vats Group and will concentrate on premium red wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes will be planted first, followed by Petit Verdot and Malbec once the vineyard is more well-established, according to reports in Chinese media. It is expected the first vintages will be ready for sale in three to four years and the companies are currently working on how to label and market their wines.
"The brand name and package are as important as the wine quality in marketing to both Chinese and international consumers," managing director of Moet Hennessy Asia Pacific Mark Bedingham told the China Daily newspaper.
Shangri-La was previously known as Zhongdian county but in 2001 was renamed after the fictional monastery in James Hilton's novel Lost Horizon (1933) in an effort to promote tourism in the region.
Moet Hennessy says it is moving directly into China to further exert its influence over a market the company claims last year provided the lion's share of the 3.52 billion euros in revenue it collected from Asia, where the brand is associated with success and prestige. Homegrown wines in China are also hit with less duties than imports.
Other famed wine-makers laying down roots in China include Chateau Lafite Rothschild, which has just begun work on a vineyard in the Penglai region of China's eastern Shandong province and is also looking to tap in directly to the world's fifth-largest wine market by volume -- one that is growing by more than 20 percent each year -- and the 300-year-old Spanish winery Torres, which has a partnership with the China-owned Grace Vineyard in Taigu, also in Shanxi province.