Yao Ming Continues to Expand Wine Venture in China

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Image: online.wsj.com

Yao Ming is a 7-foot-6-inch former NBA player who is breaking out in the business world embarking on numerous ventures, including a wine business, which he is hoping will help build a bridge for fine wine between California’s vineyards and China’s growing wine market.

After retiring from the NBA last year, Ming has enrolled in a Shanghai university, purchased his old Chinese basketball team (the Shanghai Sharks), joined a Shanghai political advisory body and maintained a strong connection to his charitable foundation helping children affected by earthquakes in western China. He also has been working on his wine venture, with the release of the Yao Ming 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($280) and the Yao Ming Napa Valley Family Reserve label ($790) last year.

Ming is hoping that he can play a role in the continuing growth of China’s wine market.

“Wine represents a culture,” Yao said in an interview in Shanghai. “We drink a lot. But maybe we just have a different drinking culture here. My favorite thing is to have a glass of wine with a book in hand, maybe some music, sitting on the couch on a weekend,” he said. “In China in the last few years, everybody has gotten so busy. Especially in Shanghai and the big cities. Wine,” he said, “can slow you down. It can bring peace.”

Though mainland China still lags behind Europe, the United States and Hong Kong in total wine consumption, Chinese consumer more wine now than in the past. Ming intends on introducing his labels to the Chinese market slowly, first selling it to top-tier wine sellers and fine-dining restaurants. So far, according to Ming, the brand is selling well.

Source: Washington Post

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