Kevin Sherwood is the founder and CEO of Van Ruiten Family Winery China, which has been importing wines from California for a few years and is now starting to see some success. The company vineyards in the United States in Lodi – a town near San Francisco and the center of a region that grows more winegrapes than Napa and Sonoma combined – have been growing wine grapes for twenty years and making wine for about ten years.
The wine brokerage, distribution and logistics firm for China operates in Shanghai. There is a corporate sales office and new tasting room and Sherwood has also created Diablo Dragon Wines as an export arm of Van Ruiten Winery.
Sherwood said there is far more to trade with China than putting wine in a container and shipping it across the Pacific. You are almost assured it will "just sit and get ruined" on the docks if you haven’t met with people and established relationships, he said. "You can’t send anything over there you aren’t willing to lose," he said.
China’s mainland has a 48% tariff on imports, making it difficult for wineries to be competitive
Lodine News.com reported that Tie Zhang, president of U.S.-China Business and Culture Association, said in an email that wine is the fastest growing business sector in China and the market for wine has seen double-digit growth in the past decade.
Zhang said Van Ruiten’s success in China is due to the personal touch its executives have conducted their business with and how they have been willing to fly overseas and meet with potential partners.
Tie Zhang said, "You have to be here in order to win this market."