Wine exports to South Korea flourish

Market Bulletin | Issue 76

11 Sep 2017
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South Korea is the fourth biggest still wine market in Asia with 3.4 million cases sold in 2016, according to the International Wine and Spirit Record (IWSR).  This equates to 0.8 litres per adult per year.  In other words, a little over one bottle of wine per year.  In comparison, Australian adults consume 26.5 litres of still wine per head. 

Australian wine is the sixth ranked imported wine in South Korea behind wines from Chile, Spain, France, the USA and Italy.  However, Australian wine exports to South Korea have flourished over the past two and half years since the introduction of the 2014 Korea–Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), which removed a 15 per cent tariff on Australian wine in December 2014 and helped bring Australia to an even playing field with its competitors.

The value of Australian exports increased from $8.4 million in 2014 to reach $13.5 million in 2016-17.  Volume also increased significantly, growing from 145,000 cases to 260,000 cases over the same period.  Australian growth has easily outpaced each of its key competitors since 2014, particularly France, the USA and Italy which saw sales decline.

The IWSR expects the recent strong growth for Australian wine in South Korea to continue (see figure 1), forecasting Australian wine sales to grow by 11 per cent annum in the five years to 2021 compared to growth of 4 per cent per annum for Chile and 1 per cent per annum for Spain while they are predicting declines for wines from France (down 1 per cent per annum) and the USA and Italy (each down 3 per cent per annum).

Figure 1: Australian wine sales in South Korea – historical and forecast (‘000 9L cases)

Wine Australia assists Australian wineries in South Korea through market initiatives such as the Australian Wine Grand Tasting (AGT) Seoul.  The AGT is the biggest annual trade tasting of Australian wine in South Korea, co-hosted by Wine Australia and the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade).

This year’s AGT has just been held on 7 September at the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul. Now in its fourth year, the AGT included two master classes during the day in partnership with wine writer Mike Bennie, and the Australian Wine Research Institute. The event was filled with more than 400 keen members of the local wine trade and media, who had a lot of intelligent questions. 

For more information, contact Wine Australia’s Asia Pacific marketing team at

General Manager of Nocton Vineyard in Tasmania, Anthony Woollams, said the following about the Australian Wine Grand Tasting -

"This was my first visit to South Korea and my first opportunity to assess the market and the trade’s reaction to Nocton Vineyard.  In many markets there are preconceptions of Australian wine styles which can lead to some confusion when confronted with Tasmania’s vastly different offering.  Therefore I was surprised and completely delighted to see an instant and almost universal understanding of our styles, (including the other Tasmanian brands present.)  I imagine this has been helped by the work of other premium Tasmanian producers in South Korea, e.g. cherries, beef and salmon, to educate people on Tasmania’s cool climate. 

I would also like to say that the event itself was impeccably planned and prepared for by the Austrade and Wine Australia teams with a terrific turnout of quality trade.  Without that, the opportunities from a very positive response could not have been maximised and I am now confident that we will be entering the South Korean market very soon".