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

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

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.

Carina Lau

Hong Kong celebrity Carina Lau (pic: CFP)
Hong Kong celebrity Carina Lau (pic: CFP)

Being one of the richest actresses in Hong Kong, Carina Lau is active in the business world by investing in different luxury sectors. She currently owns numerous prime properties, 17 nightclubs, and her own lifestyle and fashion brands.

Following the footsteps of Zhao Wei and Yao Ming, she joined the winemaking industry by announcing the debut of her own wine and champagne brand “Carina Lau” in 2015, but her road to wine bumped into unexpected twists and turns.

Being a newbie in the e-commerce world, Lau launched her wine brand at the world’s biggest wine and spirits fair Vinexpo in Bordeaux, and announced it to go on sale on Alibaba. 

It was reported by The Star that 280,000 bottles of the top-end Bordeaux wines would be offered in a pre-sale launch with the four vintages from the Haut-Medoc, Margaux and Saint Emilion.

According to TOPick, the brand is a collaboration between Lau and one of the biggest French wine merchants Taillan Group and her wines were reported to be sold via the group’s 700 retail hotspots. The first batch of 250,000 bottles sold more than 100,000 bottles within a week.

Despite the popularity of her wine embellished by her star power, what shocked the public was the relatively affordable price. The most popular series Carina Lau selection French Super Bordeaux AOC Red Wine cost RMB 298 (USD 47) for 6 bottles, RMB 49.8 (USD 8) for one bottle on average. 

In mid-2016, her wine brand was completely wiped out from Tmall out of the blue. Sina Tech News disclosed that her partnering wine merchant went to court to sue her for contract breaching and defamation, requesting a claim amount of more than HKD 2 million.

The report further cited people familiar with the matter who exposed Lau also terminated the collaboration with Tmall as her team could not bear Tmall’s “strong attitude and harsh conditions”.

The challenges did not beat Lau’s determination in making her own wine brand. In 2017, Sina Finance reported that the actress launched a new series “+0”, bearing her Chinese name Ka Ling, on Tmall again. 

Instead of working with Bordeaux wineries, her new partner isthe 50-ha Pianirossi winery in Maremma, Tuscany. The +0 wine is made under the consultation of Carlo Ferrini, one of the most prominent winemakers in Italy.

The +0 series include Maremma Toscana, Chianti, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Nero d’Avola and Primitivo. On Tmall, the price for single bottles ranges from RMB 138 to RMB 1288 (USD 22 to USD 202).

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