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Wine lovers to find Shangri-La

By Li Fangfang (China Daily)

09:38, February 24, 2012

Moet Hennessy products at a luxury brands event in Shanghai. The company will establish a joint venture with China's VATS Group to produce premium red wine in Yunnan province. (Photo/China Daily)

China to become the No 1 buyer of luxury products by end of 2012

BEIJING - Moet Hennessy agreed on Thursday to form a venture with VATS Group Ltd, a Chinese counterpart in the wine and liquor business, to produce premium red wine in Southwest China's Yunnan province.

The venture, Moet Hennessy Shangri-La (Deqin) Winery Co Ltd, will establish a roughly 30-hectare vineyard at about 2,400 meters above sea level in Shangri-La, a county in Yunnan province named after a fictional monastery described in James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon. Moet Hennessy has a 66.7 percent share in the project and VATS Group has the remaining 33.3 percent.

Mark Bedingham, managing director of Moet Hennessy Asia Pacific, said the wines produced in Shangri-La will at first be distributed mainly in China but chances are strong that it will eventually be brought to overseas consumers.

"The label and name have not been decided yet," Bedingham said. "However, the brand name and package are as important as the wine quality in marketing to both Chinese and international consumers."

He said Moet Hennessy has conducted research on the proposed project since 2009. From that, it concluded that Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes should at first be planted in the vineyard and that Petit Verdot and Malbec grapes should be considered at a later date. The wines made there are to be matured in barrels and bottles for two years before being released to the market, meaning they will not be for sale for three to four years.

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