Going Pro: Asia, By Way Of Paso Robles (Or “Am I a Hypocrite If I Accept A Chinese Wine Junket?”)

Vinted on October 19, 2011 binned in going pro, on the road

This week finds me in

Paso Robles, courtesy of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, presumably because you folks don’t get enough images of beautiful vineyard locations coupled with smarmy captions here on 1WineDude.com, so we need a trip to get you some more, you greedy little things!

I’ll be taking part in what they call a “Lifestyle Media Tour,” the aim of which is to get an “understanding of Paso Robles’ approach to sustainability, experiencing a true sense of place, seeing what the consumer may experience on a visit and meeting the personalities of the region.”  It’s unclear if those personalities include Bugs Bunny, but for some reason I woke up this morning wishing they did (maybe it was the Absinthe…). Oh, and I’ll be visiting (hopefully) more than a few producers of Paso wine, since the region is CA’s third-largest and by many counts its fastest-growing wine area.

Anyway, I’ll be “roughing it” once again in the hopes that the trip will net some interesting stuff to share with all of you (it would suck to take those 6AM flights out to the Left Coast for nuthin’!).

But I’m not here to talk about Paso today, folks.  I’m actually here to talk about China (Abrupt Transitions: 1, Joe: 0)

Yeah, that’s right – China.  Because – and I suppose, given the current state of the wine market and the influence Asia currently has over it, that it shouldn’t have surprised me even though it did – I’m starting to get invites to press trips and wine events in China.

Now, I haven’t exactly been kind (or reserved – go figure!) when it comes to my commentary on the Chinese wine market (as in, how China’s market has reacted to wine, and not about wine produced in China of which I’ve had very, very little) and the Chinese government in general.  So I think any reasonable person might ask whether or not I’d actually accept one of those wine-biz-related offers to visit China.

To which I’d reply: “f*ck right I’d go to China on one of these trips, what kind of freakin’ question is that?!??”

But in all seriousness, China – and Asia generally, including Japan and India – is where it’s currently at in terms of the market trends driving fine wine sales, and anyone hoping things will go back to the good ol’ days when the U.S. and Europe set the directional flow of fine wine dollars has their head planted firmly into the… er… sand.

So the way I see it, a trip to China is inevitable if I’m going pro in some way/shape/form within the wine biz. And that will be true whether or not I dig their government or their wine biz’s penchant for all-but-worshipping wine scores.  Will I get there soon?  Not sure – I’ve got a lot of trips lined up already for 2012, and so far none of the China dates have played nicely with my schedule… but it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened (much) sooner rather than later.

Would I be a hypocrite for going on one of those Chinese jaunts? As always, I leave it all on the virtual table of the Global Interwebs and will let you tell me!






  • RichardPF

    Hi Joe:
    I think based on your prior post "China: The Next Big Thing In Wine and Continued Totalitarian Oppression", people could raise issue with you now taking a press trip to China. You took a very strong stance in that post, which would seem at odds with you now taking a trip there, which would likely result in positive press for China. The human rights issues you raised have not really changed during the past year.

    You did say "..our businesses are so busy looking at the dollar signs that they aren’t seeing the imprisonments, tortures, and executions that made those dollar signs so big…" Now you are saying that for your own business, "going pro," you need to go to China. Some will see a disconnect there.

    • 1WineDude

      Richard – totally understood. Just airing out the thought process as transparently as I can.

  • Thomas Pellechia

    Joe, you can't get your ethics by asking us–can you? ;)

    Aside from what Richard posted above (which is an extremely important analysis), another question would be: what purpose will reporting on the Chinese market serve your readers?

    If reporting on Chinese wine that is coming to the U.S. is part of the plan, then there may be a service to your readers. But to report on what the Chinese are drinking and paying high prices for–I don't see a purpose, unless of course you have thousands of readers in China of which we are not aware; then, go for it.

    • 1WineDude

      Thomas – what, I can't crowd-source?? ;). I do care about what you think of my decisions on 1WD, though!

  • Kovas

    Why not go? It could be enlightening to find out whether the same abuses exist in the Chinese wine trade or, if it's being opened to Western journalists, it could be held up as an example of what they are doing right.

    • 1WineDude

      Kovas – thanks, great point…

  • Cindy Rynning

    Hey, Joe! My daughter lives in Cambria and works on an organic farm there. Paso is a great place for wine tasting – I visited this past March and frequented (way too) many wineries! Enjoy!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Cindy. :)

  • @terroiristblog


    Go! First, your reach goes beyond the U.S. – it'd be fun to see what wine drinkers are like there, and what you can do to convince them to read your blog (if it isn't blocked).

    Second, it'd be fun to get an on-the-ground sense of the industry there. Are they as obsessed with First Growth Bordeaux as we're led to believe? Do some people mix wine with coke? How does Chinese wine taste?

    Just write honestly and transparently when you return. And don't come back hailing chairman mao.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – there's probably a better chance of me being imprisoned there than hailing Mao… ;-)

  • Doug Wilder

    Joe, Have fun in Paso Robles – I went three years ago, they will keep you busy and on the go to some nice lunches and dinner with vintners, comprehensive sit downs and one huge walk-around, serve-yourself tasting from a couple hundred samples (which was not as great as it sounds). You may want to spend a couple more days exploring on your own the producers that don't participate.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Doug – I think the massive tasting is not on the agenda, but we are getting in some producer visits as well as local farm and produce, so far it has been an enlightening trip. I do not love all the wines, but have found several I do like very much, which have a confident air about them and some lovely vitality/acidity underpinning them. Cheers!

  • Thomas Pellechia


    If you are going and you need a good valet–just let me know.

    Sometimes, such a trip can be rewarding personally and that's enough. In the 1970s, I lived for two years in Iran. Without that experience, I would never have gotten interested in wine history, as I visited some of the ancient locations, and I would have never gotten to be one of the rare Americans who got to drink Iranian Riesling and Syrah (I think that's what it was) and they each were quite well made.

    The sad thing is that this was way before I got my blog up…

    • 1WineDude

      Thomas – some of us would still like to hear about those adventures no matter how long ago they transpired!

      • Thomas Pellechia


        Obviously, you have not read my books…

        In fairness, my first book covers the Iran period in more detail, but that is out of print (although it's still available at Amazon and from a link on my Website).

        Email me your address and you'll have yet another freebie in the mail ;)

        • 1WineDude

          Very kind of you Thomas – email will be coming soon!

  • Mia Malm

    Joe, I think it could be a very interesting experience, one in which you may test some of your impressions and assumptions about both China and its wine market. Just know that it will also be a highly curated experience and you are unlikely to encounter any person or viewpoint not expressly crafted by the organizers. Of course, on some level that can be said about any press tour!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Mia – great points. Though I suppose the China trip would be exponentially more curated than most! :)

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