Recently, twenty two influential wine trade and media from across Asia visited key Australian wine regions to get a better understanding of our wines and the people who make them. Over ten days they experienced first hand the history and evolution of Australian wine through winery visits, regional masterclasses and winemaker dinners. Wine Australia's Head of Market Asia Pacific, Hiro Tejima said the visit was a critical piece in promoting our fine wines to the world.
‘The best way to tell our Australian wine story and turn international wine influencers into advocates is by bringing these influencers to Australia to taste our wines in the regions where they’re made, to meet the people and see the places behind our wine brands.’
The visit began with guests from mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Taiwan meeting in Perth. The members of the group were drawn from markets which reflected the strong export figures for Australian wine to Asia in 2015. China, now Australia’s third most valuable export market, saw 66 per cent value growth to A$370 million while Hong Kong is now our fifth most valuable wine export market up 22 per cent to A$132 million. Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, India and Taiwan also experienced value growth in 2015. After meeting in Perth the guests headed to the Margaret River region. Margaret River has been a key influence in the evolution of Australian wine, building an international reputation as a true home of fine wine in a little over 40 years. Highly regarded as a producer of powerful - yet elegant - Cabernet Sauvignon, the region has also forged a great reputation for its white wines notably Chardonnay and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends. Guests met the grape growers and winemakers, tasted the wines and experienced all that this world renowned food and wine destination has to offer. From Margaret River the group flew to Adelaide, visiting the historic wine regions of the Barossa and McLaren Vale. In McLaren Vale, the group were excited to taste the evolution of Australian Grenache and meet Australian wine legends such as Chester Osborn from d'Arenberg. In the Barossa they were keen to learn more about a place that is home to some of the world's oldest vines. ‘This was the most engaging group of guests from Asia I have seen in many years,’ said Geoff Schrapel of Bethany Wines.
The visit also had an impact on the local media, with local newspaper the Barossa Herald interviewing several of the guests for a feature on the visit and the positive figures for Australian wine exports to Asia in 2015. From the article, "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." Final stop on the trip was King Valley region in Victoria's high country. King Valley is one of Australia’s largest premium wine regions producing the full spectrum of wine styles, with a strong Italian farming and grapegrowing heritage shaping the vibrancy and direction of the region. Guests experienced this heritage through the delicious food and wines shared by the community during the visit. Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo wines were matched with exceptional local cheeses, cured meats and pastas highlighting the region's Italian heritage and its claim as being the home of Italian varietals in Australia. A perfect way to showcase the evolution of Australian wine and the diversity of our fine wine offering. Wine Australia's Head of Market China, Willa Yang added, ‘This is the sixth year we’ve hosted wine influencers from Asia and again every guest has been impressed with the wines they’ve tasted and the regions they’ve experienced.'
Christian Zhang, head sommelier of Yacht Club on the Bund in China, summed up the trip saying, ‘This year’s visit makes me understand Australian wines more deeply, especially its terroir and diversity.' While Joanne Zheng of Amazon emphasised the potential for positive business outcomes for regions and wineries through the visits saying, 'Through this trip we have already been in discussion with several excellent wineries, hoping our platform can provide Chinese consumers with more Australian wines to choose from. Amazon China is not only an online retailer but also a marketing platform.'
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