The first pallet of New York wine being prepped for shipment to Shanghai, China

Over the last 12-18 months the United Kingdom has emerged a potentially important market for New York — and other East Coast — wines. In fact, delegations from the Finger Lakes and Long Island are there right now for the 2012 London International Wine Fair.

Now, more New York wineries than ever are looking even further east for new markets — all the way to China.

A handful of wineries, including Channing Daughters Winery, Lieb Family Cellars and Pindar Vineyards, already sell or have sold wine in China. But, later today, Empire State Cellars, the New York-only tasting room and shop in Riverhead, NY, will announce that is has been commissioned to create a selection of wines for exhibition and sale at the New York State Wine Outlet (NYSWO) in Shanghai, set to open by July.

Of the nearly 500 different New York wines, beers and spirits currently for sale at Empire State Cellars, 30 wines have been selected; wines made by some of the most-acclaimed produers in the stage, including: Anthony Road Wine Company, Bedell Cellars, Channing Daughters Winery, Hudson-Chatham Winery, Jamesport Vineyards, Medolla Vineyards, Paumanok Vineyards, Peconic Bay WineryShaw Vineyard and Shinn Estate Vineyards.


ESC is delivering some of the greatest names in New York winemaking — well made, hand-crafted products from smaller, family-owned and operated wineries.”

– Jim Silver


Myriad styles and vintages are a part of the initial shipment, including Anthony Road Wine Company 2010 Semi-Dry Riesling, Bedell Cellars 2009 Merlot, Channing Daughters Winery 2008 L’enfant Sauvage Chardonnay, Hudson-Chatham Winery 2010 Old Vines Back Noir, Jamesport Vineayrds 2007 Sidor Reserve, Medolla Vineyards 2007 Merlot, Paumanok Vineyards 2010 Assemblage, Shaw Vineyard 2006 Merlot, Shinn Estate Vineyards 2008 Nine Barrels Merlot and the New York Cork Report 2011 Wine of the Year, Peconic Bay Winery 2007 Lowerre Family Estate.

“We know about the tastes of China’s emerging middle class, and this new consumer demands authenticity and quality,” said Jim Silver, general manager of Empire State Cellars and Peconic Bay Winery. “That’s why ESC is delivering some of the greatest names in New York winemaking — well made, hand-crafted products from smaller, family-owned and operated wineries.”

More than 20 million people call Shanghai home, with more than 1.5 billion people in the entire country —  a potentially huge market for any wine region. It’s one of the fastest growing wine markets in the world, due in part that growing middle class, which is at least partly responsible for the astronomical prices Bordeaux wines can fetch nowadays.

There is little doubt that most New York wineries — no matter how small — want even a sliver of the potential Chinese market.

Carlo DeVito, owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery, which produced 2,700 cases in 2011 with plans to eventually double that, told me in an email “We’re not large now, but we’re growing. We’re trying to seed a market for the next twenty years.”

There’s a prideful side to NYSWO involvement as well. “Introducing our wines to a new segment of customers and showing that our wines are indeed world class. And that they are not only drinkable, but collectible,” is an exciting opportunity for DeVito.

For others, including Channing Daughters Winery general manager Allison Dubin, it’s much simpler. “Getting our great wine out to the world,” is the exciting part, she said, adding “There are a lot of people in China.”

Once it is open, NYSWO will also host promotional events, wine education classes, coordinated professional trade shows and wine sales and matchmaking events for distributors and buyers. Other New York wineries not exported by Empire State Cellars will also be represented there based on other arrangements. If I can get my hands on a list, I’ll publish it either in the comments here or as a standalone post.