Chinese celebrities in wine business (pic: Vino Joy News)
China Wine

Five Chinese celebrities in wine business

These five Chinese celebrities made a name for their performance on screen and their enterprising spirit, but perhaps few knew them through their association with wine.

Zhao Wei

Zhao Wei (pic: Zhao Wei's official Weibo account)
Zhao Wei (pic: Zhao Wei’s official Weibo account)

Described by Forbes as the ‘world’s wealthiest working actress’ in 2015, Zhao Wei or Vicki Zhao is a Chinese actress, film director and businesswoman. Zhao was one of the first Asian celebrities digging into wine business in Bordeaux. 

Her first purchase was Château Monlot for €40 million in 2011, a 8.5-ha Saint-Emilion Grand Cru winery. The winery hired now disgraced Château Angelus owner Hubert de Bouard as its chief consultant and former winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet from Petrus, which produces one of the most prized Bordeaux reds, as consultant. 

The winery produces Château Monlot Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, a Merlot dominant wine mixed with Cabernet Franc, and the Merlot dominant Château Monlot Heritage de Monlot Saint-Émilion Grand Cru. Tmall.com, China’s biggest online retailing platform, shows a single bottle of wine from the winery can range from RMB 189 to RMB 1680 (USD 30 to USD 263).

In 2013, she went on to purchase Château Patarabet, located at the foothills of Saint-Émilion village, and the 16-ha Château La Vue. She further extended her wine business into Entre-Deux-Mers in 2015 with the purchase of 57-ha Château Senailhac.

In 2019, she bought Château La Croix de la Roche, a 12-ha winery in AOC Fronsac and Bordeaux. According to Vitisphere, the winery can produce 82,000 bottles of wines including Fronsac, Cremant de Bordeaux, Bordeaux blancs and reds in addition to Bordeaux Superieur.

Utilising her business savviness, she has partnered with Jack Ma and other investors in 2015 to co-found a negociant house called SAS Cellar Privilege in order to sell her wines back to China. Based at Château Senailhac, the place is reported to have underground storage space for up to one million bottles.

The actress originally did not plan to promote wines to China, but later saw the commercial potential and produced both high-end and more affordable wines. Online retailer Tmall said it was inundated with requests for Zhao’s Château Monlot wines after its private launch event in Beijing in 2015. 

Although she received accusations of selling OEM wines with a hyped price before, her cheaper range of Monlot wines used to rank the most popular wines on Alibaba’s Tmall.

But she no longer can enjoy the sweet success as all mentions of Zhao on Chinese social media platforms are erased amid China’s crackdown on the entertainment industry in August.

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