Pip Stewart
9 July 2024
Jing Yang
9 July 2024

Natalie Wang

Wine connoisseur becomes top communicator about the market in China

Natalie Wang (MJ 2012) knew little about wine when she graduated more than a decade ago from the JMSC’s master’s programme. Now, she is running a thriving digital media platform dedicated to the business of wine, as its founder and resident wine expert. 

In 2021, she was recognized by the Women in Wine and Spirits Awards as one of the 50 most influential women in the wine and spirits industry. In September, she’ll travel to London to serve as a judge for the 67 Pall Mall Global Wine Communicator Awards

“This event celebrates excellence in wine communication and writing,” she said. “That’s quite rewarding.”

In 2022, she was the only Chinese journalist nominated for the 2023 Wine Communicator of the Year at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. 

Natalie at a recent wine tasting

After stints at Reuters and a trade publication, Natalie started as an editor for American wine critic James Suckling’s namesake wine review platform jamessuckling.com in 2014.

“I barely drank wine back then and despite my limited experience with wine at the time, I got the job,” said Natalie. She learned a great deal about wine and reviewing from Suckling, who would taste hundreds of wines a day. 

In 2016, she became the online editor of The Drinks Business, a UK publication, where her focus shifted to the Asian market, particularly China. In 2017, she was promoted to managing editor. “It was at the peak of China’s wine market. Wine consumption was at an all-time high then. Every research firm was projecting [that] China’s going to overtake the UK to become the second biggest wine consumer.” 

But there was a lack of English-language publications dedicated to covering the region. Natalie learned that existing publications in China were not able to cover the vast and complicated market to meet the demand of many wine producers and merchants who were eager to sell there. Identifying this gap, Natalie launched Vino Joy News, an English-language website dedicated to covering the wine businesses in China, in 2019.

With no marketing budget at the outset, and only herself as the full-time staff, Natalie was able to build a reputation as “the only one currently covering China’s wine market in English.” Vino Joy now has a readership of over 15,000 weekly subscribers, including importers, wineries and distributors.

Natalie believes Asia is the future of wine. “The fact that wine publishing and communication are still very much West-driven means that there is still much to be done to cater to Asian markets,”she said. After receiving an investment early this year, Natalie is expanding the team beyond herself and freelancers for the first time. She is looking to hire two or three reporters in mainland China, one in Hong Kong, and a part-time sales person.

Aspiring wine journalists don’t need to worry about an ability to down gallons of wine. “You just need to approach it the same way as you would when covering any other news subjects,” Natalie said. “Report on the facts, trends and market size to inform our readers about the latest developments in the wine market in China and the rest of Asia.”

Natalie with husband and son