Back in 2013 we interviewed ‘negociant’ and WiC reader Russell Badham about the China market, where he helps Australian vineyards sell their wine. He described the situation as “evolving quickly”, noting that selling white wine was something of a struggle versus the likes of dark-red shiraz.
Much has changed in five years and this week industry body Wine Australia announced that the country’s yearly wine sales to China had topped A$1 billion ($771 million) for the first time. Exports of Aussie reds and whites jumped 51% in the year to March 31, which helped wine exports to China reach a level more than double those to the US.
We had predicted in our Little Red Book special issues that a growing middle class would create a new market for mid-priced drinking wines and that Australia was likely to be the biggest beneficiary (the early stages of the wine boom in China were focused on expensive First Growths from Bordeaux such as Lafite and Latour). A drop in tariffs as a result of a free trade deal has also helped wine exports from the likes of the Barossa Valley and Margaret River too.
The leading exporter from Australia is Treasury Wine Estates, whose Penfolds range is the biggest selling Aussie wine brand in China, followed by the Rawsons Retreat range in second and its Wolf Blass series in fifth. Hence the milestone on sales to China is no surprise to Robert Foye, TWE’s chief operating officer (and another WiC reader). “Consumers in China have shown that they love the taste, heritage and quality of our Australian brands, including Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Rawsons Retreat.The future is bright for Australian wine in China,” he confirmed this week.