Darren Chin, project manager of Twelve Oaks, stands amid a vineyard on the 700-acre development, financed by Chinese investors. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

David Pierson
April 23, 2016

David Liu made his first fortune more than two decades ago, exporting American scrap metal to his rapidly industrializing home country of China. After the financial crisis, he scored big again buying thousands of distressed apartments in the United States and selling them later for a tidy profit.

Liu is now convinced he’s spotted his next major haul, this time in a seemingly unlikely place for Chinese investment. The millionaire developer is betting that the oft-dismissed wine region of Temecula is poised to break out as a far bigger destination for oenophiles and tourists given its proximity to Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.

“Napa Valley is bigger, but it’s too far away,” said Liu, 57, a former statistics professor turned real estate developer. “Here, we have 20 million people living at least a two-hour drive away. And the quality of the wine is much better than before.”

Liu, an American citizen who splits his time between China and the U.S., purchased 700 acres of barren Riverside County land in the heart of the appellation that had previously been destined for tract homes.

You wouldn’t let a little thing like not having a corkscrew stop you from enjoying that bottle of wine you just bought, right? Watch these videos to see what lengths people will go to to open a bottle of wine in a pinch.

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