Wine exports to China skyrocket and California reaps the benefits

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Bottles of champagne are seen on display at a Costco store December 29, 2008 in South San Francisco, California.

When China’s Vice President Xi Jinping wraps up his visit to Los Angeles, don’t be surprised if he takes home a few bottles of California Cabernet.

American wine exports are soaring — and China is a huge customer.

Wine exports to China jumped 42 percent last year. One of the world's fastest growing economies, China is the fifth largest market for U.S. wines. Younger upscale Chinese have developed a growing taste for high-end cabernets and chardonnays.

Europe remains the top customer, spending almost $500 million so they can toast American.

The Europeans are followed by Canada, Hong Kong and Japan.

Overall, American wineries took in $1.4 billion from sales overseas — and 90 percent of that came right here to California.

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