Diversity, Value and Distribution – The Key to Success for Australian Wine Exports to China

Exclusive Interview: David Lucas, Regional General Manager, China, Wine Australia

Australian wine exports to China (including Hong Kong and Macau) have increased by 51% to AU$1.04 bn for the year to March 2018 – a first for exports to a single country. We asked David Lucas, Regional General Manager, China for Wine Australia for his thoughts on this incredible growth.

Clearly, the percentage of growth cannot continue at this level, however we do fully expect the volume and value growth to continue at a significant pace, but with continued emphasis on premiumisation.

Why is Australian wine so popular in this country?

The overall image of Australian wine in China is very positive. Australia is an innovative winemaking country and home to talented winemakers who are passionate about crafting premium quality wine. Australia’s climate, unspoilt land and ancient geology is so unique it allows us to produce an incredibly diverse range of wine. Chinese consumers are increasingly interested in the styles of wines that are produced in Australia – some are fruitier, and some a little sweet – these styles are over and above the more conventional wine styles that people are familiar with.

AS THIS YEAR’S COUNTRY OF HONOUR, AUSTRALIA HAS 151 EXHIBITORS AT VINEXPO HONG KONG WHO ARE SHOWCASING OVER 225 WINE BRANDS

This diversity of wine from Australia and the changing tastes, are now matching very well. In addition, the reduction of duty on wines from Australia has made the prices more attractive and with overall improvements in distribution, especially within e-commerce, Australian wines are reaching the consumer more easily, at prices that are more acceptable and with styles that suit the changes in taste.

Which Australian wine-growing regions are the most popular for Chinese buyers, and are you seeing an emergence of certain lesser known regions?

Australia is home to 65 wine regions that produce a diverse range of premium quality wine. Our world-renowned regions such as Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra are the most likely to be recognised, popular regions for Chinese consumers, but we are also seeing an increase in exports from many other regions across Australia. Wines from the likes of Clare Valley, Heathcote and Hunter Valley have definitely increased their presence in China. If you visit the Australian wine stand (Level 1, Entrance D) you will be able to discover terrific wines from over 50 regions across Australia, including some lesser known regions you may never have had the chance to experience before.

Why did Wine Australia decide to partner with Vinexpo Hong Kong this year, and what are you hoping to achieve from this partnership?

The landscape of Australian wine has never looked more exciting. Vinexpo Hong Kong offers a brilliant opportunity to shine the light on Australia’s thrilling and diverse wine scene. China is our number one and fastest growing export market, so Australia taking the title of Country of Honour was an easy decision for us to help strengthen our position in the market, and enable us to showcase the breadth of fine Australian wine to some of the most influential people in the region. Vinexpo itself has a strong reputation too, and that ensures the people who visit the exhibition already have a good sense of the fact that the show will be well organised and will attract many of the world’s major wineries.

What can visitors expect to see at the Australian wine stand?

As this year’s Country of Honour, Australia has 151 exhibitors at Vinexpo Hong Kong who are showcasing over 225 wine brands. We are representing 51 of Australia’s wine regions allowing delegates to discover wines from some our most renowned regions, to the lesser known.

On-stand, we are pleased to be presenting a series of master classes in the Australian Wine Master Class Area conducted by leading Australian and international wine experts. The program will examine 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.

All attendees are invited to visit our Australian Wine Tasting Bar to explore a range of different Australian wines and experience intimate tastings with some of our master class presenters and winemakers.

We have six regional bars representing Barossa, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Orange, Yarra Valley and Margaret River will transport you to some of Australian’s iconic wine regions  at the Australian wine stand and will offer an opportunity to learn more and try some of our famous wines.

Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 will also see the global premier of the Aroma Wall – a joint venture between Wine Australia and the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). The large scale, interactive instillation represents some of the key aroma compounds that make Australian wines so iconic.

We also have an interactive “Explore” wall to engage with. With two interactive screens, guests are invited to discover the history of Australian wine through immersive story-telling, video and imagery as well as engaging Google maps to explore our wine regions and wineries.

What special events are being organised?

During the 3-day event we are proud to be presenting a packed programme of talks and exclusive tastings that showcase the talent of Australian winemakers.

CHINA IS OUR NUMBER ONE AND FASTEST GROWING EXPORT MARKET, SO AUSTRALIA TAKING THE TITLE OF COUNTRY OF HONOUR WAS AN EASY DECISION FOR US TO HELP STRENGTHEN OUR POSITION IN THE MARKET

We have regional focused themes covering the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Yarra Valley and McLaren Vale. On Vinexpo’s Grape Variety Day, insights will explore Australian Grenache and Pinot Noir, emerging varieties and a “coast to coast” tour of Cabernet Sauvignon winemaking. “Australia’s First Families of Wine’s” will be unlocking their cellars to share some of their most respected and revered wines and share the stories of success behind these iconic Australian wines.

Australia’s unique terroirs will also come under the spotlight with a guide to the Langton’s Classification system, insights into working with old and young vines, and a ‘form guide’ of Australia’s best performing and most prized wines.

We are also presenting two conference sessions:
“Ensuring authenticity and integrity of Australian wine” – this session focuses on Australia’s worldclass wine regulatory system and how recent changes to the regulations have strengthened Wine Australia’s ability to prevent the export of ‘copycat’ wine brands. This event will provide an overview of the Australian wine regulatory system and explain the recent changes to the export controls. “Growing Demand for Australian Wine” analyses the key to Australia’s success in Asia. The conference will cover the growing affluence across many parts of Asia; the dramatic growth in interest in diverse wine styles; and the increasing importance of addressing consumer demands and creating exciting opportunities for wine in Asia. To reflect on consumer trends and how major Brand Owners and Distributors have adapted for the future, we have assembled a panel of experts to discuss what is taking place in the market and what has already been done to begin to address rapidly evolving consumer expectations.

All attendees are welcome to attend The Blend on May 30th in the Grand Foyer. As Country of Honour, Australia will take centre stage with only Australian wines being presented. There are four wine bars at The Blend, each with an iconic Australian theme:

  1. Classic country – wines enjoyed in a classic country setting;
  2. Urban – interesting and alternative varieties found in trendy city wine bars;
  3. Coastal wines made for drinking by the beach;
  4. Red Centre – Australia’s great red wines

Photo: David Lucas, Regional General Manager, China, Wine Australia