In less than two decades, wine has gone from sideshow to main attraction at dinner parties in China. According to a The Wall Street Journal article, “China as a Vast Wine Market,” wine sales grew by 20% between 2011 and 2012 — to about $41 billion.

Meanwhile, as highlighted by PRI's The World, a recent study on the impact of climate change on wine indicates that China is the “fastest growing wine-producing region in the world.” The combination of increasing demand and a changing environment conducive to wine production makes China a region worth keeping an eye on in the years to come.

Specifically, the country's southwest, previously unaccustomed to viticulture, may soon experience a turnaround. (The study goes on to warn of the potential conflict of establishing vineyards in an environment that's home to giant pandas.) It's not that there aren't already wine producers in China; in fact, there's one that is internationally acclaimed.

This year a major U.K. wine purveyor, Berry Brothers & Rudd, added four Chateau Changyu varietals to their shop offerings, signaling the country has gained more clout among serious oenophiles. According to Reuters, the wines — three ice wines and a Cabernet Sauvignon –Merlot blend — were made in Shandong, an Eastern Chinese province. Three years from now, China will become the sixth largest producer, jumping up from eighth place. By then, the country will also have grown into the second largest consumer of wine.

Earlier this month, a Napa Valley delegation joined Governor Jerry Brown on a trip to China in an effort to expand awareness of the region. ABC News reported an international marketing director at California Wine Institute, Linsey Gallagher, as having said the trip was to help ensure that California wines become a part of the “luxury consideration set” among the growing middle class.

And in related news:

What Does Climate Change Mean For CA's Wine Industry?

Making Wine on Catalina Island: The Rusack Family's Santa Catalina Island Vineyards

New Zealand Pinots To Drink Now

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