China perfect market for Europe's wine industry, says Slovak winemaker
Published: Oct 06, 2023 03:22 PM
 Bottles of new Beaujolais Nouveau wine are on sale at an alcohol boutique in Paris, France, Nov. 17, 2022. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

Bottles of new Beaujolais Nouveau wine are on sale at an alcohol boutique in Paris, France, Nov. 17, 2022. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

Europe's wine cellars are brimming, while demand for the product is steadily increasing in China, Slovak winemaker Eduard Sebo told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The recent drop in demand across Europe keeps pushing the prices down and threatens to destroy the wine industry, he said.

As a result, vineyards are being uprooted and local wine producers are forced to distill wine into other products like alcohol for disinfectants or look for new markets, he added.

Meanwhile, wine consumption and production are on the rise in China, Sebo said after he attended a recent competition between Central and Eastern European and Chinese wines, part of the 2023 China-Central and Eastern European Countries Wine Culture Festival held in Cangzhou city in northern China's Hebei Province.

Around 320 wines produced by 20 winemakers from 16 countries were rated by three commissions and about half of the samples were Chinese. Sebo's winery took home a gold medal for the Muscat Blanc a Petits Grain variety.

Citing the rapid growth of wine consumption in China in the past 15 years (up from 0.02 liters per capita to 2.2 liters per capita), Sebo said he had great expectations for Europe's struggling wine producers.

Wine competitions have a strong tradition in Europe and Sebo came up with the idea of comparing European wines with the ever-progressing varieties produced in China a couple of years ago, in hopes of promoting these products among Chinese customers. He initiated the first two competitions together with his Chinese partners and took part in this year's third edition.

During his stay in China this time, Sebo visited a high-profile winery in eastern China's Shandong Province. Sebo, who is also president of the United Industries investment group, was deeply impressed by the size and level of technology implemented on site.

The 73-year-old businessman was especially surprised by a "25-story research and development building, ten wine bottling machines and autonomous carts whizzing around the compound."

Confident in the Chinese wine market's potential, his company has also set up a joint venture, the Zhongjie Nitra Winery in Cangzhou.

Sebo is also planning to bring the wine competitions nearer to the public. "We have started talks with two big provinces and their administrations in order to attract more Chinese businessmen and producers (into the competition)," he said.