Ten Chinese delegates were welcomed in both English and their native tongue outside a room at Hutchins Street Square on Tuesday as the business ties between China and Lodi continue to strengthen.
Wine bottles were uncorked, juice caps were unscrewed, and crackers and cheese set out on tables for delegates to munch while they inspected potential items to export and sell in China.
The visit is part of an ongoing process to build and enhance ties with the U.S. Agricultural Trade office in Shanghai, as well as to better Lodi's far-reaching agricultural and wine-based sales.
The business connection between Lodi and China is fairly recent, but it has been a relationship fostered by hard labor on behalf of both Chinese delegates and the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, said Frank Gayaldo, the chamber's director of International Business Development.
The year 2006 marked the beginning of China-Lodi business relations, and the connections deepened in August 2008, when consul general Gao Zhangsheng visited Lodi.
Tuesday's showcase event was a direct result of that earlier visit.
"We created more buzz about what Lodi had to offer in that one day than we had since we started," Gayaldo said.
According to consumer reports, most consumers in China are price-conscious when they purchase wine.
The report stated consumers will typically purchase wine that averages out to be $2 to $3 a bottle, or $20 to $30 a case.
On Tuesday, Chinese delegates enjoyed sampling items such as pomegranate juice, wine from various wineries and even dried cherries.
Ann Mehrten and Sandra Ferreira of Perfectly Pomegranate smiled as delegates chatted excitedly about their juice.
"It is good," one delegate said. "We'd like to take some home."
Ferreira said it was encouraging to have interactions like that on Tuesday. It gives potential buyers a hands-on experience, and she said it is enjoyable to see the smiles on delegates' faces when they like their product.
"They are big believers in the pros of pomegranate juice in China," she said. "And we have a great taste to offer them."
Following their stop at Hutchins Street Square, Chinese delegates were treated to lunch at the Dancing Fox Winery & Bakery before heading to Lathrop to check out more food options, including a shelf-stable milk that can last up to a year.
"(These visits) are like a train," Gayaldo said. "We lay the tracks, but it is the businesses that fill the containers."
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.