By James Wells

A Perth-based winery is the latest company to react to the lack of perceived support from Wine Australia at a recent trade fair in China, which is Australia’s fourth largest wine export market.

Sarah LeCoultre, marketing manager from Neilson Estate Wines contacted TheShout to relay her experience at the recent ProWine China exhibition in Shanghai.

“We met the head of their local team, Willa, at ProWine. She was very nice, tasted our wines and told us that she was about educating people on Australian wines and as such, was unable to help us or provide services to us in any way. I'm wondering how she can effectively educate if she is not willing to work with and actively assist a range of Australian wineries in China?” LeCoultre told TheShout.

“Regarding the response by Louisa [Aherne] that Wine Australia does not do trade shows that are not tried and tested – although this is the first ProWine in China, surely the ProWein brand is tried and tested? Given that equivalent trade shows in China are popular in an evidently emerging market, supporting this event seems more than reasonable." 

Another vocal criticShanghai-based consultant Mat Ryan, further added in response to comments by Wine Australia about its approach to the China market that he believes there is too much focus presently by the organisation on the Hong Kong market.

"[Wine Australia] need to completely take Hong Kong off their radar as far as entering the China market is concerned. An easy fix for them is to use people like me, and there are many more, and use us to bring and co-ordinate the wineries to these shows, but have someone from Wine Australia co-ordinating the design of the single pavilion so that it’s the same at every event. This is exactly what the French, Italians etc do.  It’s not hard, and it costs them nothing, as they will charge for the cost. They don’t even provide translators or any further assistance to the wineries that come on these Wine Australia or government sponsored road shows."

"Wine Australia needs to realise that Australia needs a big presence at all of these shows, as all that the buyers see when they walk into the pavilions is France, Italy, Spain, Austria and Portugal. Australia is supposed to be number two in this market, but it’s like we’ve given up and are resting on our laurels. I don’t think they’re incompetent, I think they are completely focused on the wrong thing."

An Australian visitor who visited ProWine China and wanted to remain anonymous told TheShout that he did a “significant amount of new business whilst attending the fair but also got a far better insight into the Chinese wine business and what they actually need”.

"We have now gained new business in Australia from Chinese clients that we had never met but appreciate the time that I took to go and understand and study the market and listened and agreed to my observations. Unfortunately Wine Australia have no idea about the personal mechanism that works in the wine industry globally or the achievable outcomes can be achieved."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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