Judy Chan, CEO of Grace Vineyard, Shanxi, China
From novice to the president of a leading Chinese winery, Judy Chan has witnessed the evolution of Chinese wine market in the last 2 decades.
Q：How many years have you been in Wine & Spirits business?
Q：What makes you devoted yourself in the wine sector?
A：By coincidence, since I took over our family-owned winery from my Dad.
Q：What are the main transformation & changes in the industry you have experienced so far?
A：Quite interesting discovery. I didn’t know anything about wine when I started to work in the winery. I think the Chinese wine industry went through also the similar journey and big change: from blank market to speedy development with intensive competition. The wine industry today is very
competitive, more segmented, more professional.
Q：What you enjoyed most in your career? The biggest challenge you have encountered as a woman in the industry and how did you overcome it? What drives you keep going?
A：The biggest reward is the new challenges I am facing everyday. Thus no much time for boredom. What drives me keep going is to look at the “brighter” side in my work, to overcome the challenges.
Q：What are the main distinguishing merits / qualities in women attributing to the career success?
A：Women are good at multi-tasking because we have both career and family to take care of. This is helpful in work too.
Q：Advice to your peers?
A：A women’s work life balance is hard to strike. Go for what you really love and accept the in-balance.
Q：Who will you recommend us to interview as the next WWS figure?
A：Zuieniang, the founder of Penguin Drink.
Q：There are always some myth regarding “female palate” or “Chinese palate”, what are your opinions?
A：I disagree with that saying. ‘Chinese flavor’ is diversified itself, how can we say there is only one ‘Chinese palate’ ? There was a book called Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, in fact the difference between the two sex is not so big, if you look inside, the difference between women and women might quite bigger than that of men.
Q：The cost of wine in the Chinese market is relatively high, and there are fewer experiences to learn from. What difficulties and challenges did you encounter in the process? What motivated you to persevere?
A：We had gone through lots of difficulties. Our wines were firstly launched in 2003 when SARS outburst. Our vision to build a Chinese winery focusing on quality wines in Shanxi Province which is famous for its rich coal mines sounded odd to locals back then. We wanted to make our winery small and beautiful while everyone else was dreaming big and talking about scalability. Luckily, we have more like-minded friends from other wineries.
Q：What do you think of the future development of Chinese wineries? What strategies and plans have you made for Chinese wine going global, and what attempts have you made? For example, the friendship between the winery and the community?
A：We are a member of community in Taigu Shanxi. We wish to bring more to the community by providing employment, taking initiatives to protect the environment and boosting tourism.
Q：Let’s share some insights on female leadership. As the owner of the winery, what experience have you summed up in the work of recruiting, managing and promoting the winery?
A：Though I studied feminism in my college, I don’t think the leadership shall be gender-divided. The difference between men and women is not that vast as people imagined. Be open and bold.especially when it comes to people empowerment.