By James Wells

Wine Australia has responded to a recent claim by local wineries that it provided a lack of support for an exhibition in China last month, by claiming that it is heavily supporting the market with events and activities.

In an article published by TheShout following the recent ProWine China event in Shanghai, Australian wineries claimed they received no support from Wine Australia other than a short visit from a representative despite having three employees dedicated to this market. The Australian wineries also criticised the Chinese office of Wine Australia for providing no assistance in relation to the translation of tasting notes and other marketing materials for distribution at the event. 

In a statement supplied to TheShout, Wine Australia manager of communications and public relations, Louisa Aherne, has defended the Chinese office and outlined the activities that it is currently undertaking in the market.

“Our China team, which is made up of three hard working professionals, works to educate and engage the wine trade, media and consumers in China through trade shows, educational initiatives including A+ Australian Wine Schools and the A+ Australian Wine Specialist Programs, media, social media, retail promotions, tasting roadshows and masterclasses. Given the sheer size of the market, we focus our efforts and resources on initiatives that deliver the most return on investment for our levy payers and user-pays partners,” Aherne said.

“There are more than 10 large scale wine shows held in various cities around mainland China and in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, with the resources we have, we are unable to commit to all of them. Instead, Wine Australia participates in well-established events with a proven track record based on feedback from exhibitors, the Chinese wine trade and Australian wineries," she said.

"In the last two years, we have focused our efforts and resources on the following trade shows in China and Hong Kong: Vinexpo Asia Pacific 2012, Hong Kong Nov 2012, Food & Hospitality China (FHC), Shanghai 13-15 Nov 2012, China National Food, Wine & Spirits Fair, Chengdu (Chengdu Fair) 28-31 March 2013, Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair, Hong Kong 7-9 Nov 2013, China National Food, Wine & Spirits Fair, Chengdu (Chengdu Fair) – TBC based on the final subscription 28-31 March 2014, SIAL 2014, Shanghai  13-15 May 2014 and Vinexpo Asia Pacific 2014, Hong Kong 27-29 May 2014.”

Aherne said Wine Australia’s strategy, focus and activities in China are guided by Australian wineries as well as the China Australian Wine Importers Network (CAWIN), which consists of wine importers of all size.

“In addition to the China-specific trade events, Wine Australia also hosted Savour Australia 2013, Australia’s first global wine forum, in Adelaide in September, which involved nearly 800 delegates including Australian wine producers and wine trade and media representatives from around the world including a strong contingent from China. This was a major undertaking and involved our global team from around the world, many of whom were hosting Savour visits throughout wine regions up until October,” she said.

ProWine China 2014 under consideration

Aherne pointed out that when Wine Australia coordinates an Australian presence at trade shows, it does so on a user-pays basis.

"In other words, we invite winery and/or regional partners to join us to participate. We require a minimum number of partners to be able to make it possible to create a strong Australian wine presence. Therefore, we need to provide trade event opportunities that will be of interest and benefit to a wide range of Australian wine producers to show the diversity, quality and regionality of Australia’s wine offering and secure the appropriate level of industry involvement," she said.

"Also, we wouldn’t commit to an event that hasn’t been tried and tested before. Our team in China led by Willa Yang, is constantly assessing trade events to make sure Australian wine has a strong presence at those that are most relevant and beneficial. If we start to get feedback and see positive results from trade shows that we’re not currently involved in, then we would certainly consider getting involved in the future if we could see the potential benefits.”

In a separate piece of correspondence, Wine Australia general manager of market development, James Gosper, has confirmed that he is evaluating the merits of participating in ProWine China in Shanghai in 2014. Gosper has confirmed Wine Australia’s participation at ProWein in Dusseldorf in March 2014 including a 152 square metre exhibition booth featuring a number of Australian wineries.

The Shout Team

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

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  1. It frustrates me to no end that Wine Australia continue to lump Hong Kong in with the Mainland China market. They are 2 VERY different and unique markets, with, despite Wine Australia’s continuing beliefs, very little influence on each other. Let me put it straight – marketing or going to an event in Hong Kong to get into Mainland China is the same as going to an event in Canada in order too get your wine in USA. They are different. Different tax systems, different governments (somewhat) and different consumer patterns.

    My overall frustrations are not due to their basically pathetic lip service visit at Prowine, but the ongoing lack of support for people like me, Jeremy Oliver etc.. who are doing their job for them.

    Look at every one of these shows in Mainland China (again, please forget about Hong Kong for the purposes of this discussion), and look at the French, Italian, Spanish, Portugese and Austrian pavilions, then look at Australia. It needs a consistent approach.

    I’ve taken 38 wineries to events this year around China. ME, by myself, yet Wine Australia have provided me with a box of brochures, and couldn’t even help with something like translations.

    If I sound frustrated, it’s because I bloody well am.

  2. I guess it’s all come down from the top. Wine Industry is very important for the EU countries and they’ve believed and enjoyed the Chinese market for many years now. While France, Span and Italy wineries enjoy massive support and subsidy from their government, The level of attention from Australia is still in a silent world. Indeed the WA girls in Shanghai worked very hard. In Fact it is a “mission impossible” for three people to promote a trade this size or going increase 5-6 times bigger in the next 10 years.

  3. Anyone who thinks there is no connection between the Hong Kong market and China is dreaming. Whilst the two markets could not be more different, the knowledge and connections and appeal of dealing through Hong Kong make sense to Chinese buyers. That is why events like Vinexpo and HKIWS are so successful at attracting serious Chinese buyers. The Chinese buyers appreciate the legal structures that support doing business through that market – compare that to the nightmare sellers and buyers have experienced in China. To be very honest the skilled smugglers prefer to operate through Hong Kong as well. If anyone knows how to “deal” with China it is Hong Kong Chinese and I am a gwai loh!

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