My name is Ma Huiqin (马会勤), but most people call me Qin, similar to “Chin”. I’m a professor at China Agricultural University (CAU) in Beijing and specialize in wine and fig marketing and grape and fig molecular biology.

I have two decades of practical experience with partners on five continents. From creating a Chilean wine brand for China to assessing vineyard disease in the Ningxia region. From developing the fig industry in Sichuan province to helping an investment team evaluate Australian wineries.

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

I also regularly serve as a wine judge and conference speaker, and have taught wine appreciation to over 7,000 students during the past 15 years. My students and I have also been creating a series of educations wine videos for the social media platform WeChat. It’s called Wine Knowledge Bureau: Tannin Museum.

I am the OIV coordinator for the Ningxia region, vice secretary general of the Chinese Society for Viticulture , 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 columns for Economic Observer and Fine Wine & Liquor.

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 topics such as fruit sugar accumulation and the role of phytohormones in fruit development. Exciting stuff! You can see some of the publications here. My students and I also work on 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. I also have given lectures at other universities.

Last, but certainly not least, I have taught a wine appreciation class for 15 years. More than 7,000 students have taken this course.

The wine appreciation class is open to all majors. As our school 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 regularly judge in wine contests—a fun part of my job!—and speak at conferences here and abroad. Contests in which I have judged include:

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

I have co-chaired numerous contests and events, including 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.

I’ve been a guest speaker or panelist at conferences or seminars organized by OIV, ProWine, Wine 100 and many other entities. My recent speeches include:

  • “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)

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 links to see studies.

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.

See more publications here.

Media Coverage

And I have been quoted in or interviewed by mainstream media such as 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.