France Offers Chinese Primer In Mastering Wine Industry

- Dec 16, 2017-

DIJON, FRANCE — Yixuan Hao swirls the sparkling red in her glass and dips nearer to sniff. Throughout this frigid afternoon, she has been smelling and tasting wines from sunnier climates: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, California. Perhaps soon, sooner than many people think, students like herself learning the wine trade here in Burgundy, will be sipping vintages from another New World upstart: China.

“It’s like a learning curve,” says Hao, 23, who comes from Xinjiang province, China’s biggest producer of wine grapes. “You need to learn from others who know better. But we’re trying to develop our own style, rather than copy the Bordeaux and the Burgundies.”

Welcome to the School of Wine and Spirits Business in Dijon, part of the Burgundy School of Business, where nearly one-third of the student body is from China. The nation that now dominates manufacturing of products ranging from wind turbines to smart phones is now turning its sights on oenology, and grooming a new generation to master it.

That includes here in France’s storied Burgundy winemaking region, where a patchwork of tiny vineyards, ancient villages and rolling hills have for centuries cultivated a particularly fierce love of terroir. The elusive term, capturing a particular land, climate and soil that helps define the identity of every wine, earned Burgundy a 2015 listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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