By James Wells, reporting from ProWein China in Shanghai

Wine exporter and Executive Officer of Australia’s First Families of Wine, Ralph Dunning, is imploring Australians to invest in the booming China market.

Speaking with TheShout at ProWine China in Shanghai this week, Dunning said Australian companies are perfectly positioned to capitalise on the growth in the Chinese market.

“I would like to say to all Australian wine companies this is a land of great opportunity for future marketing and sales growth – please get over here,” Dunning told TheShout.

“I hear lots and lots about how sales and marketing is being driven by numbers. This is a marketplace that reminds me quite a bit of the Australian marketplace 30 years ago – it is all about relationships and that’s why you need to be here. Australians can beat anybody in the world at building relationships and that’s why I think we have such opportunity here.”

As a director of his own brand – Byron & Harold, Dunning has experienced what is required to grow a brand in the Chinese market.

“China is already our leading export market in the world for Byron & Harold and for a lot of Australian wine businesses – this will become their number one wine export market. It is emerging and growing so rapidly at the moment that I would implore every Australian wine business to be here and to bring their best wines. What we need to do is to have all of the well-respected and revered wine businesses here in China and putting their best foot forward and saying this is what Australian wine is, this is the quality that we can assure you.

The Wine Australia stand at ProWein China in Shanghai


“Our brand is only young and we have been in this market for five and a half years and what we are finding is some very strong growth is coming from this marketplace and it is not just at the entry point, it is at the premium end, which is growing exponentially in China. This is reflected in the numbers provided by Wine Australia – which show strong headline numbers in terms of volume but exceedingly strong headline numbers in terms of revenue because the top end of the portfolios is performing strongly.

“Growth is predominantly in the red category, as in excess of 80 per cent of all wine into this country is red wine. In our own business we have been having better success in white wine that has been the later harvest or sweeter style that is still finishing dry – not cloyingly sweet, and it still needs to have some structure and acid backbone as this is something they really love.

“The biggest qualifying factor in China for every wine company is boots on the ground – it is how many times to visit the marketplace. We have a small business – I am up here four times a year and my partner is up here four times a year at different times – because you have to be here and you have to be seen to be here. You have to keep turning up and they’ll reward you.”

Dunning was highly complementary of the ProWine China exhibition which is running its fifth consecutive exhibition in Shanghai this week where Australian participation at the event has increased by 30 per cent year on year.

“ProWine China in Shanghai is one of the highest profile shows in China and deserves to be. There are two head and shoulders shows – one is Chengdu and the other is ProWine China in Shanghai. And why – because Australian brands know that it is visited by highly-qualified importers and distributors and that is the bottom line. Australians are looking for access to the market and they need people who are going to look after their brand for them efficiently and professionally.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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