Chinese investment brings boom to California wine

World Today

Chinese investment brings boom to California wine region

Southern California is famous for its sun, sand and surf. But when it comes to fine wines, most people turn north to world-renowned areas like the Napa Valley. There is, however, another lesser known wine region outside of Los Angeles that’s quickly gaining attention from wine lovers and, more importantly, investors – many of them from China.

CGTN’s May Lee brought us this report.

They are flocking to Temecula Valley, just 130 Kilometers southeast of Los Angeles. The region has been producing wine for 50 years, but up until a few years ago, there were just a handful of established wineries.

Temecula, however, is now going through a renaissance. Not only are existing wineries expanding, but new developments are in the works. This recent boom is being fueled by more available financing, much of it coming from China.

There’s a big reason why Chinese investors are pouring their money into Temecula. It’s the EB-5 visa. That’s the program that allows U.S. citizenship to foreigners who are willing to invest at least $500,000 so winery and resort developers are actively pursuing Chinese investors and doing quite well.

Chinese investment brings boom to California wine region

Danny Martin has been involved in the Temecula wine industry for decades. He says Chinese interest is a game changer.

“Being a winery appraiser, I have a clients that we’re working with right now so that’s how I know how many wineries are coming into the market and I’d say half of those are Chinese.” says Martin.

John Goldsmith is General Manager of Europa Village, one of the winery projects that’s being heavily funded by Chinese investors. Eighty percent of the money needed for the $110 million dollar luxury wine resort is Chinese money. Half of those investors are EB-5 visa applicants.

CORRECTION: Europa Village does receive 80 percent if its investment from Chinese investors as reported. Approximately 55% of the total investment in Europa Village is EB-5 visa investors and 80 percent of EB-5 are from China.

But long before any mainland Chinese investors discovered the Temecula Valley, real estate investors Patricia and Matthew Lin, siblings from Taiwan, took a risk and bought the oldest winery in the valley, Callaway Winery, in 2005.

Chinese investment brings boom to California wine region

Although Patricia Lin admits making money isn’t easy in the wine business, the family’s love of wine and their belief in the region’s potential with the help of more Chinese interests is what keeps them moving forward.

“We’re gonna grow,” says Lin. “It’s just a matter of time and hopefully with this Chinese investors’ money, it will help us get there earlier.”

That hope deserves a very big toast.