For the first time this year, the Chianti Classico grape harvest in Tuscany will also be produced by a Chinese company.
The Chinese businessman You Yi Zhu traveled to Tuscany last year to explore investment opportunities in the wine-making business there. For about two million euros, he bought the Casanova La Ripintura estate in Greve in Chianti: 5 hectares of vineyard, one hectare of olive grove, a farm, two houses used as an agriturismo business and a forested area. The estate can produce about 400 tons of grapes and 50,000 bottles of wine, according to Giuseppe Liberatore, the general director of the Consorzio Chianti Classico, the consortium made up of 580 Chianti producers, including Zhu’s company.
Most of the wine produced by Zhu is destined to be exported to China, where wine is now much appreciated by the new wealthy Chinese, who already know French wine, but are still not familiar with Italian wine. China is becoming a leading wine producer, second only to Italy and France, but ahead of California and South America, according to Liberatore. Wine in China is also considered a great gift.
About 15% of the Consortium’s members are now foreign. The first foreigners to arrive were the British, followed by the Americans and the Germans, then the Argentinians, Russians and finally the Chinese. The workforce remains local though.
“Those who don’t like to see a ‘foreign’ Chianti production are mistaken,” said Davide Gaeta, the president of the Consortium. “The Chianti region has always been open to opportunities, and if foreigners are interested, it is a good sign. It is good for production thanks to the influx of investment money, and it is good for employment because, except for management, the workforce is all local.”
Just a few months ago, another Chinese businessman acquired the Poggio Romita estate in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, which comprises 30 hectares of vineyards.