How Writing Inside the Chinese Wine Industry Expanded My Ability to do Research
Recently, I completed my third nonfiction book; it was a research-heavy-project that was about wine in China called Inside the Chinese Wine Industry.
I studied history in both college and grad school where I was taught to start a project by asking broad historical questions and to do background reading namely through secondary sources. Then we were encouraged to drill deeper to find the right primary sources for the subject of our inquiry.
For this particular topic, I had to deepen my understanding not only of Chinese culture and history, but also of wine and the global wine industry. This is where I began. Then, when I started to get a grasp of the background knowledge, I looked more specifically at the Chinese wine industry.
The background info allowed me to broaden my scope and create a solid context to look at the industry. It helped that I was freelance writing at the time and writing about the Chinese wine industry which allowed me to get paid to do research on the topic, further propelling me.
Next, I read every book available in English that I could find that had anything to do with the topic. I supplemented this by doing exhaustive research in databases and the web about the topic. The interesting thing that I found was that unlike writing a straight history about something that happened a century ago (for example), this was a blossoming topic of increasing interest. As a result, there was new information coming to light all the time and always a new article to discover and read.
This made writing the book challenging because I was desperately trying to keep the book as current as possible. However, trends, projections, and other information were rapidly changing, forcing me to go back and change parts of the book that were no longer relevant or had changed due to new developments.
Additionally, with a topic that was current and increasingly popular, other things were changing the picture as well. For example, President Trump’s trade war with China was a new wrinkle that was altering the course of Sino-American relations and as a result, aspects of the Chinese wine industry. I would be remiss not to include some of these aspects in the book.
Eventually, I felt as if I was on a great hunt where I had to shoot at a moving target. This was drastically different than any experience I had writing purely historical accounts. It was a new challenge for me and one that not only continued to stretch my understanding of the topic and the process, but also challenged me as a writer and researcher.
About the Book
Title: Inside the Chinese Wine Industry
Author: Loren Mayshark
The wine business is one of the world’s most fascinating industries and China is considered the rising star. A hidden secret, the Chinese wine industry continues to grow at an amazing pace and is projected to soon enter the top five producing nations, supplanting long established countries such as Australia. Inside the Chinese Wine Industry: The Past, Present, and Future of Wine in China takes you through the growing Chinese wine scene.
Wine has had a meteoric rise in China over the past two decades. The nation is projected to become the second most valuable market for wine in the world by 2020. One recent study concluded that 96% of young Chinese adults consider wine their alcoholic drink of choice. Not only does Inside the Chinese Wine Industry explore current expansion and business models, it journeys back to the past to see where it all began.
There are more than seven hundred wineries in China today. Although it’s bit of an oversimplification, the vast majority of the wineries fit into one of two categories: the larger established producers who churn out mostly plonk to meet the growing demand for inexpensive wine and the newer wineries that try to cater to the tastes of the wealthy Chinese with money to spend on luxury goods like fine wine. In the words of wine guru Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, “The cheap wines from the very large producers have mostly verged on dismal.” However, this should not be considered a blanket statement regarding every wine from large producers. Also, she has positive reflections regarding the level of wine produced by “cutting-edge wineries” which she finds “far better.” How good are they? MacNeil asserts: “Some of these wines are so good they could easily pass for a California or Bordeaux wine in a blind tasting.”
Loren Mayshark studied Chinese art, religion, philosophy, and history while earning a B.A. in history from Manhattanville College in New York. After graduation, he attended The Gotham Writers Workshop and the prestigious New York Writers Workshop. He has written about the Chinese wine industry for The Jovial Journey and Sublime China.
After college, he supported his itinerant lifestyle by working dozens of jobs, including golf caddy, travel writer, construction worker, fireworks salesman, substitute teacher, and vineyard laborer. Predominantly his jobs have been in the restaurant industry. He cut his teeth as a server, maître d’, and bartender at San Francisco’s historic Fisherman’s Grotto #9, the original restaurant on the Fisherman’s Wharf. While working with a colorful crew of primarily Mexican and Chinese co-workers.
He spent much of his young adult life exploring the wine industry from Sonoma Valley to the North Fork of Long Island, immersing himself in vineyards and learning valuable lessons. He has traveled extensively in South America, Europe, and Asia. He presently splits his time between Western New York and Sweden.
His first book, Death: An Exploration, won the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award in the category of Death and Dying and was a finalist for book of the year in the 2016 Foreword INDIES Awards in the category of Grief/Grieving (Adult Nonfiction). Inside the Chinese Wine Industry is his third book.
For more information visit his website: lorenmayshark.com.
Keep up with him on Twitter: @LorenMayshark