PARIS, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Cash-rich Chinese companies continue to acquire legacy French vineyards in the Bordeaux region, as French wines soar in popularity among well-heeled consumers in China.
A Chinese investor, Huang Yingzhi, recently acquired the Bordeaux vineyards belonging to French firm Les Domaines CGR. Purchased vineyards include the Château La Cardonne, Château Ramafort and Château Grivière, Le Figaro reported Thursday.
Huang purchased the vineyards for tens of millions of euros through his holdings in the Hongkong Funshare Life Group.
The vineyards have produced top-ranking vintage wines for more than 40 years under the ownership of the Lafite-Rothschild family, then under the Charloux group in the 1990s.
The Huang family is expected to retain 31 professionals on staff and keep the existing distribution network. In one year's time, the Chinese investor said, exports to China would get underway.
The total number of Bordeaux wineries under Chinese ownership is now more than 100, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
China has become the No. 1 destination for Bordeaux wine exports since 2011. In 2015, the country imported 55 million bottles of French wine and was second only to Hong Kong in terms of imports.
Cyril Benoit, the founder of Benoit & Associates, an independent investment bank, said the acquisition reflects the new expectations of Chinese consumers.
"The consumption by the [Chinese] middle class continues to grow," Benoit told Le Figaro.
French export data showed wine and spirits sales to China climbed 23 percent in 2015, to about $940 million, The Financial Times reported.