Chinese wine to get boost from global wine grape conference

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Winemaking in China is set to benefit after the country this week welcomed many of the world’s top grapevine scientists for the 11th International Conference on Grapevine Breeding and Genetics, according to local academics.

Image: outside the conference centre © 11th International Conference on Grapevine Breeding and Genetics

The conference, which has been held every four years since it was founded by the International Society for Horticultural Science in 1973, opened in Yanqing County, a wine region northwest of Beijing, on Tuesday this week. Around 350 experts from 34 countries attended the event, which has never been held in Asia before.

‘There is no doubt that holding [this event] will actively promote the development of wine grape research in China,’ said Li Demei, DecanterChina.com columnist and professor of wine tasting and oenology at Beijing Agriculture College.

‘The conference will help the Chinese scientific researchers to expand their network internationally, and will be positive for further co-operation, ’ he told DecanterChina.com.

Conference delegates also had the chance to visit nearby Chinese vineyards. Professor Ma Huiqin, vice general secretary of the Chinese Society for Viticulture, said the organised trips represented a good opportunity to improve understanding of Chinese grapes and wine.

Alongside the academic conference, local authorities also organised the 2014 Beijing (Yanqing) International Wine Exposition, which attracted exhibitors from 21 countries and around 4,000 wine trade visitors. Together, the two events were called the International Grape Conference by local officials.

Li Demei said it was important to recognise the government’s role in organising the conference, but he warned the wine industry that it must also put in its own effort. ‘From the prospective of promoting the development of wine industry, we cannot solely rely on the government, as the product will eventually be tested in the market.’

He added, ‘A new trend I noticed in this event was that producers, consumers and officials all began to pay attention to the regions. This is a very good change, and could be a turning point of the Chinese wine industry.’

At the same time as the conference and trade show, Yanqing authorities also opened a grape theme park for consumers, which will remain open until the end of October. The park is aimed at Chinese tourists and is designed to teach them about grapes and wine. Professor MA said wine tourism is has huge potential in China, particularly near to a major city like Beijing.

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