Over in China, the Wine Institute, an association of California wineries, is using the Golden State's effortlessly cool image to sell mid-range wine abroad. As the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports, the Wine Institute pushed a year-long ad campaign in Shanghai featuring images of the Golden Gate Bridge and a blond kid carrying a surfboard through a grassy field — all to get the attention of an emerging middle class of Chinese wine drinkers.
As Dennis Barnett, a wine distributor looking to break in to the market explains, there only two groups of wine drinkers in China: "consumers who purchase bottles for $5 or less, and wealthy buyers who are willing to pay $1,000 to $10,000 for a bottle from Bordeaux or Burgundy." And apparently those wealthy winos don't actually have an appreciation for the stuff: "They're drinking it with 7UP, because they don't have a taste for wine," Barnett says.
So, between the cheapskates and the showoffs, there's a big hole in the market where (here in America at least) there should be a solid demographic of people who find $12 bottles of Barefoot Pinot completely drinkable. The trick is hitting on something that appeals to local palates. As one Sebastopol-bred wine consultant explains: Sonoma County's recent products, which she found to be "more restrained, elegant styles" ought to do the trick. And if not, nothing says "Grown in California" to a Chinese drinker like our Austrian former governor.