Vino-joy.com, the only English news media created to cover the wine market in China and the rest of Asia, provides exclusive news and analysis on the region’s dynamic and often complicated wine market. Today, Vino Joy News is regarded by wine professionals as the leading and trustworthy source in China’s wine industry.
A Hong Kong-based Chinese wine journalist, Natalie Wang was born and raised in Chongqing, China. She obtained her Master’s degree in Journalism at Hong Kong University and honed her journalist skills with International Herald Tribune, Thomson Reuters, and JNA magazine. She has worked in the wine industry for more than five years, previously with American wine critic James Suckling and later with The Drinks Business Hong Kong, China.
Q: How many years have you been in the wine & spirits business？
N: My first job in wine was with wine critic James Suckling as an editor for his website. That was seven years ago! Time flies.
Q: What makes you devoted yourself in the wine and spirits sector?
N: I studied journalism at Hong Kong University, and I was for a long time writing on China politics, which is completely a different subject. I thought for a change, I would switch to a less serious subject, and it just so happens there’s an opportunity to be an editor for wine critic James Suckling, so that was it. Later I quickly realised there wasn’t much coverage on the industry itself as most writings on wine are focused on wine reviews and critics. Reportage on China’s wine market is so scarce in existing English media, disportionate to what the market size is. There’s mainstream media like Bloomberg, WSJ or Caixin covering China’s financial industry, but not wine. This propelled me to launch my current website Vino Joy News.
Q: What are the main transformation & changes in the industry you have experienced so far?
N: One of the key things I have felt over the past few years is the improvement of Chinese wine and more confidence shown from Chinese winemakers. Coming from Chongqing, I never drank wine before I took my first job in wine, and the only experience I had with Chinese wine was when I was in high school, my uncle brought over a bottle of Great Wall red. It was not palatable without the addition of sprite. That was how we used to “tolerate” wine. Today, it’s great to see so many independent and family-owned wineries making their footprint on the international stage, as well as domestic market. I now always keep a few bottles of Chinese wines in my wine fridge.
Q: Do you think China has become more important as a wine market? How those international wineries respond to the accelerated changes in this market due to Covid-19?
N: Absolutely. China without a doubt has become more important as a wine consumer and a wine producer. Problem is there’s a discrepancy of information coming out of the market and outside market demand and interest. Hopefully, with Vino Joy News, we can bridge that a bit. I think a lot of wineries embraced e-commerce and digital marketing if they haven’t already. Working from home certainly made them rethink about taking unnecessary business trips.
Q: From your observation, which market does today’s Mainland China wine market resemble? Or it is very unique in terms of fragmentation and channel evolvement?
N: I think China’s wine market in many ways resembles the US market. Most of wines produced here are consumed locally, much the same like the US (around 90%). In China, the market maybe segmented, but for the US it’s the same and over there it has the complicated three-tier system where wine producers cannot sell directly to retailers. But for the two markets, the wine consumption power is evident.
Q: What kind of role a wine journalist undertake today, especially when the paper media became less and bloggers / KOL started to become a popular “digitalized media” form?
N: Indeed, the rise of bloggers and KOLs have diminished impacts of traditional print media. But for journalists like me, what I count on is that we can bring reliable and trustworthy information to readers who have a stake in the Chinese market, the good, the bad, the complicated stories. More importantly, I think having wine journalists brings scrutiny to the market that KOLs can’t, such as the practices of big companies, market regulations, counterfeit wines, etc.
Q: What will be the key words to describe Mainland China’s 2021 wine market?
N: Recovering, promising, consolidating and resilient.
Q: What you enjoyed most in your career? The biggest challenge you have encountered as a woman in the industry? What drives you keep going?
N: I think a lot of people in the industry are not used to seeing wine being reported as news. Stories that we did about counterfeit wines, changes of leadership in some big companies, or fraud stories can rub some people in the wrong way because they think wine writing should only stick to reviews or critics. If you think about it, it’s a ludicrous and extremely outdated idea. As a woman working in wine industry in Asia, I learned professionalism is important thing to build up your career here. I have seen so many things that men can get away that women just can’t. What can you do? Let your work speak for yourself.
Q: What are the main distinguishing merits / qualities in women attributing to the career success?
N: I think women can bring as much to the wine industry as men or even more. It’s really not about women v.s. men, but about being more tolerant and welcoming to women in this field, whether as wine buyer, sommelier, merchant, or educator etc.
Q: Any Advice to your peers?
N: Work hard and support fellow women!
Q: Who will you recommend us to interview as the next WWS figure?
N: Definitely talk to this Chinese Instagram wine influencer called Wine Memoir who has about 50k followers, and Virginie Saverys, owner of Italy’s biggest certified biodynamic winery Avignenesi. She really turned the winery around and is a leader in cutting carbon emission and advocating regenerative viticulture.
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Vino-joy.com is created with the goal to become an authoritative and trustworthy news website in Asia and China’s wine market. It is the only English news media created to cover the wine market in China and the rest of Asia. Its English website vino-joy.com provides exclusive news and analysis on the region’s dynamic and often complicated wine market. Based in Hong Kong, China, the media company is run and managed by a group of Chinese wine journalists. The company also publishes wine content in Chinese through WeChat account ‘悦聊酒 VinoJoyNews’ for Chinese language readers.