Fresh off the back of a 66 per cent increase in Chinese wine export values in 2015 – making China Australia’s third most valuable export market – a contingent of Asian wine influencers toured the Barossa last Friday as part of Wine Australia’s visitors program.
A total of 22 guests – including trade, media and sommeliers – from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan were hosted by several Barossa winemakers for the day before being treated to a regional tasting and dinner at Murray Street Vineyards.
Watson's Wines is one of Hong Kong’s most powerful wine merchants.
Buying and brand manager Ben Cheung, Hong Kong, took up the buyer role for Australian and New Zealand wines in 2015, overseeing a total of 70 brands, 50 of which are from Australia.
Mr Cheung said one of the most important messages he would take home was the Barossa’s regional diversity.
“We need to tell people about the diversity in the region,” he said.
“The climate is also very different (to what we expected) – that will change people’s perceptions of the wine here.
“Yes, the Barossa is hot, but it doesn’t have a negative impact on the wine; Australian winemakers have the skills to make it good!”
Wine Australia’s head of market, Asia Pacific, Hiro Tejima said its visitors program aimed to create Australian wine advocates and ambassadors.
“The best way to tell our Australian wine story to the rest of the world and turn international wine influencers into advocates for Australian wine is by bringing these influencers to Australia to taste our wines in the regions where they’re made, and to meet the people and see the places behind our wine brands,” Mr Tejima said.
“Our visitors program brings media and commentators, importers, wholesalers and retailers, and sommeliers and restaurateurs to Australia to experience the best wine experiences we have to offer and to help Australian wineries uncover new commercial opportunities in key export markets.
“Asia has seen strong growth in 2015 with Hong Kong now our fifth most valuable wine export market, up 22 per cent to A$132 million, while Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, India and Taiwan have all also seen growth in value in 2015.”
Wine Australia’s head of market, China, Willa Yang said wine exports to China were continuing to see strong growth, increasing 66pc to A$370 million.
“One Barossa winemaker who hosted our guests has already told us that this has been the most engaged Asian wine media and trade group that he has seen in the region in years and the strong export figures from both China and the wider Asian region reflect this curiosity to learn much more about Australian wine styles and regions,” he said.