About Ma Huiqin 马会勤

My name is Ma Huiqin 马会勤, but most people call me Qin, similar to “Chin.”

I am a professor at China Agricultural University in Beijing and specialize in wine and fig marketing and grape and fig molecular biology.

I have over two decades of practical experience in China and with projects involving five continents, including working with Chilean academics to make a wine brand for China, consulting with ViniPortugal on distribution, helping a local investment team evaluate Australian wineries, and doing molecular biology research with partners from California, Israel, South Africa and more.

In China, I have done everything from vineyard disease assessment in the Ningxia wine region to studies of fruit distribution and sales to, most recently, co-organizing the VII International Symposium on Fig in Sichuan province.

As a professor in the Department of Fruit Tree Sciences in the College of Horticulture, I also do a great deal of lab research. You can find some of the research on which I have collaborated here.

I am chair of the International Society for Horticultural Science‘s Fig Working Group and the OIV coordinator for the Ningxia region. I am also vice secretary general of the Chinese Society for Viticulture , a committee member of the Chinese Society for Horticultural Science and Asia regional editor for Wine Economics and Policy. I have written for many publications, including for the Economic Observer and Fine Wine & Liquor.

I regularly serve as a wine judge and conference speaker, and have taught wine appreciation to nearly 10,000 students. My students and I have been creating a series of wine education videos for social media platform WeChat. It’s called Wine Knowledge Bureau: Tannin Museum.

I have worked at CAU since finishing my PhD there in 1997. I did post-doctoral research at the Institute for Wine Biotechnology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa and attended the College of Agriculture at Hebrew University in Israel as an international student.

This site covers some of my projects, publications, and speaking and judging experience. As you can guess, I like to keep busy!

For more info, email me via hqma (at) cau.edu.cn.


Creating a Chilean Brand for China (2011-)

We worked with Anakena winery and the Center for Aromas and Flavors, a research unit of Catholic University of Chile (CUC), to create a wine brand for China. Experts in Beijing judged China’s top brands and the winning wines went to CUC for chemical analysis. Eight prototypes were then blended using Anakena wine and evaluated by experts and consumers in China. We used the feedback to create Don Jorge Family, a brand we registered in China in 2015 and have sold via a China Agricultural University team since 2016.

Assisting the Weiyuan Fig Industry (2012-)

I have been helping government and industry in Weiyuan County in Sichuan province to develop the fig industry. This includes research, on-site visits and helping Weiyuan connect to global scientists and organizations, with leading researchers attending the county’s annual fig festival. I have been also done research involving figs in Shandong province and help manage a greenhouse in Hebei province, a project that goes beyond fig research to understanding how best to package and market the final product.

Pairing Portuguese Wine with China (2013-2014)

We did face-to-face interviews with importers of Portuguese wine in Shanghai. The topics include basic company info, knowledge of Portuguese wines, relationships with producers in Portugal, and more. This gave us a snapshot of importer attitudes to help identify Portuguese wines best suited for China. I traveled to Lisbon to pick wines to exhibit in China and present to potential importers.

Studying Vineyard Applications of Tyvek® (2013-)

In cooperation with Skyline Winery in Xinjiang and Dupont in the United States, this project tests the reflective material Tyvek®. While Tyvek® has been used for table grape vineyards to improve fruit color, this project focuses on wine grapes, with partial vineyard canopies used during veraison to slow sugar accumulation.

Evaluating a Winery Purchase in Australia (2013)

This project involved preparing background info on wineries in Australia for a purchasing team that included legal, financial and architectural experts. The team visited candidate wineries in Australia to determine wine stock and brand value, participate in acquisition negotiations, and ultimately buy a winery.

Assessing ADB Loan Risk in Ningxia (2012-2013)

On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I evaluated the risk of vineyard disease, notably trunk disease, as part of the approval of a USD90 million load to Ningxia Agricultural Reclamation Group to promote wine grape development. All key vineyards were visited and sampled in Ningxia to provide a general disease risk assessment.

Research & Teaching

I consider myself a scientist first and my laboratory and classroom at China Agricultural University as second homes.

Our lab focus is molecular biology, with research on subjects such as fruit sugar accumulation, and the role of phytohormones in fruit development. Check out some publications here.

My students and I regularly do fieldwork at a demonstration garden, vineyard and greenhouse on the outskirts of Beijing. We also do some intriguing wine marketing projects. You can read about those here.

I teach courses like Horticultural Product Marketing and General Horticulture, and supervise the theses of 10 graduate students.

Last, but certainly not least, I have taught a wine appreciation class for nearly 20 years at my university. About 10,000 students have now taken this course.

The wine appreciation class is open to all majors. As our university attracts students nationwide, the class is somewhat representative of China. Many former students now work at wine importers, retailers and consultancies, at local wineries, and in wine-focused academic or government departments.

Speaking & Judging

I’ve been a guest speaker or panelist at conferences or seminars organized by OIV, MUST, ProWine and others, including:

  • The World Fig Conference & Expo, 2023 (Weiyuan, Sichuan, China)
  • The Science and Innovation Forum at the International Conference on Grape and Wine Industries, 2023 (Yinchuan, Ningxia, China)
  • “Is the Asian market redefining wine styles”, MUST Conference, 2017 (Cascais, Portugal)
  • “Positioning Cool Climate Wines in China’s Market”, Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, 2016 (Hong Kong, China)
  • “Wine Production in Challenging Climates”, International Cool Climate Wine Symposium, 2016 (Brighton, UK)

I regularly judge in wine contests—a fun part of my job!—including:

  • Concours de Mondial
  • Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition
  • Food & Wine
  • La Revue du Vin de France
  • Ningxia Winemakers Challenge
  • Simply Bordeaux
  • WINE 100

I have co-chaired numerous contests and events, including the Ningxia Wine Challenge with Jancis Robinson (Yinchuan, China, 2012), the first Israel wine master class in China with Tal Gal-Cohen (Beijing, China, 2017) and Ningxia Winemakers Challenge II with Andrew Caillard (Beijing, China, 2017). I am also chair of the annual Grape Wall of China consumer wine challenge.

Here are a few more photos from conferences, contests and other events in which I have been involved:

Publications & Press

Academic Publications

I have collaborated on molecular biology research involving grapes and figs, with articles appearing in numerous journals.

Click the links to see the studies and click here for more publications.

My wine marketing research has appeared in publications like the International Journal of Wine Business Research and Academy of Wine Business Research as well as the book Wine in Chinese Culture.

Media Coverage

I have been quoted or interviewed by mainstream media like The GuardianEl Mundo,  Bloomberg, New York Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Wirtschaft and The Toronto Star.

Locally, I have been quoted by China DailyBeijing Review, Xinhua, CCTV and Shanghai Daily. I have also been cited in trade media such as Drinks Business, Wine Business International, Jancis RobinsonDecanter and Wines and Vines.

You can find more details here.