Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018, Asia’s premier wine and spirits trade fair, was the largest-ever international celebration of Australian wine. Australia took centre stage as ‘Country of Honour’ at the 20th anniversary of the event, with a record 151 exhibitors showcasing more than 225 Australian wine brands from 51 wine regions.
The packed three-day program (29-31 May) celebrated Australia’s diverse and energetic wine scene, with more than 1,400 Australian wines presented, from world famous, award-winning wine brands to boutique wineries, many pioneering new styles, trends and grape varieties.
‘I think we will look back over the coming few years and see this as a fundamental opportunity to step up and to continue to rise and to nurture the opportunity in China. It has had a head-turning effect, and this is what we wanted.
And it’s a bit of a watershed moment, given where we are. It’s a strong signal of intent and preparedness and enthusiasm to engage with the region. I think we will look back at Vinexpo Hong Kong and say “this was a pivotal moment”.’
Andreas Clark, CEO Wine Australia in the Vinexpo Daily
In our latest story, we look at what made Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 so special. From the master classes to the regional tasting bars, from the stunning array of Australian wines showcased on the stand to the business relationships formed and strengthened, we look at what made this event such an important one for Australian wine.
Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018
The calm before the storm
With the largest assembly of Australian wineries ever attending a major international wine trade show, a special occasion was in order to bring everyone together before the big event. Exhibitors joined us for a formal briefing and update on the Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 program of events followed by drinks on a sweeping rooftop terrace nestled in the heart of the city.
Australian exhibitors at the launch of Australian Wine Made Our Way
Australian exhibitors mingle at the briefing event
‘I’ve marketed and sold Australian wine around the world for the past quarter century. The presence of 150+ Australian wineries at Vinexpo 2018 was the most emphatic statement of this nation’s wine sector’s capabilities I’ve seen in all that time.
Finally, we walked the talk and Asia stood up and noticed. Our wine community was united in presenting a face of Australian wine that was exciting, dynamic, confident, immensely diverse and clearly capable of engaging with Asia like no other wine producing nation on the planet.
Most importantly, this was an immensely powerful statement for Brand Australia positioning the country as bold and independent force in the world of wine smack bang of the world’s most exciting consumer market.’
Howard Duncan, CEO, Artisans of the Barossa
One of the key elements of the briefing was to introduce the new Australian Wine Made Our Way campaign which will help drive international demand for Australian wine. The campaign, which had its public debut at Vinexpo Hong Kong, is a key part of the Australian Government’s $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package (the $50m Package) that aims to raise the perception and demand for Australian wine in key export markets – including China and the USA.
Australian wine stand at Vinexpo Hong Kong
Australian Wine Made Our Way
While Australian wine exhibitors were relaxing before the big event, across town, Hong Kong’s food, wine and lifestyle media joined us for an exclusive wine tasting experience. From Australia’s most iconic and celebrated wines, to the hottest new styles, our presenters Andrew Caillard MW, Nick Ryan and Dan Killey handpicked a unique selection to surprise and delight our guests. This was a rare opportunity to taste the wines that make Australia the most diverse and thrilling wine scene in the world, and one that definitely had a positive impact on all attendees.
Australian wine open for business at Vinexpo Hong Kong
Even before the doors opened, there was a palpable sense of excitement on the Australian stand at Vinexpo Hong Kong. The sheer size and scale of the Australian wine presence impressed exhibitors long before it wowed the 17,000 plus delegates from across Asia Pacific.
‘When you walk in the door it kind of hits you! I think it’s a great message to send to Asian consumers and Asian trade about the importance of Australian wine. And I think that it’s great that you’ve secured this position and really been the flagship for Vinexpo for this year.’
Fongyee Walker MW, wine consultant/educator/media personality
Size and scale are one thing but the Australian wine presence at Vinexpo Hong Kong was more than just bigger and better. Bold new innovations in trade show design disrupted the ‘same old same old’ landscape of cookie cutter stands. From regional tasting bars to the Aroma Wall, from the integration of the new ‘Australian Wine Made Our Way’ branding to the Australian Wine Tasting Bar, Master Class area and Concierge Desk, the Australian wine presence at Vinexpo Hong Kong was a true game changer.
Barossa regional tasting bar
Concierge desk and Tasting Bar at Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018
‘Critical mass always works. If you have 2 or 3 Australian stands at a show it doesn’t really make an impact. You have to make a splash sometimes and that’s what you are doing here. The French have always done it and benefited, I think it was Australia’s turn.’
Robert Joseph, The Wine Thinker
Standing out from the crowd is important but all of it would be pointless if it wasn’t complimented by a diverse range of exhibitors and a program of events to delight visitors keen to engage with Australian wine. Here’s just a small selection of highlights from Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018.
Master class in the Vinexpo Academy Room
An exciting program of 26 master classes at Vinexpo Hong Kong examined a range of topics, including how different grape varieties have come to thrive in Australia, regional focuses, and the qualities of the unique terroir which have made Australian wines among the foremost in the world. The master classes were hosted by leading Australian and international wine experts like Corinne Mui, Fongyee Walker MW, Yang Lu MS, Jeremy Oliver, Andrew Caillard MS and many more.
Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 saw the global premiere of the Aroma Wall – a joint venture between Wine Australia and the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). This large scale, interactive installation showcased some of the key aroma compounds that make Australian wines so iconic in a fun and engaging way.
The Blend at Vinexpo Hong Kong
The Blend was the official networking party for all attendees at Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018. Australia took centre stage in the Grand Foyer of the Hong Kong Convention Centre as 1,500 delegates enjoyed an immersive Australian experience. There were four unique wine bars at The Blend, each with an iconic Aussie theme. ‘Classic country’ showcased wines enjoyed in a classic country setting while ‘Urban’ looked at the interesting and alternative varieties found in city wine bars. ‘Coastal’ explored wines made for drinking by the beach and ‘Red Centre’ shared Australia’s great red wines with guests.
Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018: A watershed moment, a bright future for Australian wine
At Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018, more than 150 Australian companies shared Australia’s vibrant, exciting and authentic wines with some 17,000 attendees from across Asia and around the world. We shared stories about our wines, the places they celebrate and the people who make them. We discussed in detail our ancient soils, some of the oldest grapevines in the world and highly skilled viticulturists and winemakers. We showcased our expertly crafted wines that embody our love of our land, and our clean and pristine environment to wine trade from many of the key markets for Australian wine now and into the future.
Master class on the Australian wine stand
This was a watershed moment for Australian wine, made possible with the support of the Australian Government’s $50 million Package. While it will be weeks and months before the true business impact of Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 for the Australian wine community can be fully measured, we thought we’d leave the final words (for now) to Alister Purbrick. Alister proudly represented Tahbilk, one of Australia’s First Families of Wine, at Vinexpo Hong Kong. He has seen a lot during his life in wine and truly believes this will be an important moment for Australian wine.
‘It reminds of when I was the Next Gen back in the 80s and 90s and we were doing something similar. We were breaking the rules and pushing the boundaries so the Australian category became really sexy and had sizzle.
I think we are just on the lip of that happening again, but it won’t be me and my peers doing it. It will be the next generation hopefully repeating and doing even better than what some of the older brigade did back in the day.’
Alister Purbrick, CEO of Tahbilk
Learn more about the Australian wine presence at Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 in our event summary here