We’ve been hearing a lot about wine in recent months because of the threat of a possible global wine shortage. The European countries that have traditionally made and consumed the most wine, like France, Spain, and Italy, are not drinking or selling vino like they used to. There is, however, one country that has become a (unlikely) growing force in the wine industry: China.


China has developed an interest in all types of wines from different countries, but a recent report from CNN Money addressed China’s new found love for California wine. Linsey Gallagher of the Wine Institute noted that a lot of California wines suit Asian cuisine. She also said that California has a really positive image in China. It is the Golden State after all.


In addition to buying the wine just because they like it, a lot of Chinese business people are looking to invest in American vineyards. There are pretty low production levels, high quality products, and fairly reasonable price tags.


As great as it is that China is showing such an enthusiastic interest in California wines, it’s also troubling for some industry professionals who have seen it before. The market really follows China in many ways, so it could result in huge demand for California wine, followed by an increase in prices to levels that can’t be sustained. Once it gets to that point, things usually fall apart and consumers move on to another product.


Regardless of what could happen, it’s clear that for now, things are really looking up for the California wine industry. Right now, 60 California wineries are exhibiting in Wine Institute’s California Pavillion at the first ProWine China 2013 Trade Fair through this Friday. The wineries are representing 110 brands and 32 American viticulture (fancy word for the vineyard business) areas and regional associations.


Currently, China is the fifth largest market for California wine exports. We’ll have to wait to see if they continue to climb the ranks or if another surprise wine loving country will pop up.