Extolling wine virtues to new market China
The world's fastest developing major economy is the new exporting target for a group of Marlborough wineries setting off to China next week.
New Zealand Wine global marketing manager Chris Yorke said the eight-day trip aimed to search for distributors and increase sales, as well as to push New Zealand wines as strong, premium wine brands.
Of the 23 wineries represented on the Shanghai trip 12 are from Marlborough: Omaka Springs, Forest Estate, Babich, Nobilo, Stoneleigh, Terrace Heights, Jackson Estate, Oyster Bay, Spy Valley, Tohu Wines, Villa Maria, and Staete Landt.
Seven of the Marlborough wineries also have company representatives making the journey.
Mr Yorke, who is leading the trip along with New Zealand Wine marketing executive Kate Garton, said it would be New Zealand Wine's first visit to China. He also said it would be the largest ever tasting of New Zealand wines in China, with 100 wines on the sampling menu.
The three-day trip involves a media conference, tastings and a restaurant dinner matching the New Zealand wines with Chinese cuisine.
Ruud Maasdam, owner and winemaker at Staete Landt Vineyards, said he was looking forward to the tour.
"I am a touchy-feely person and I want to see how the consumers and the buyers are. I want to see if they know the difference between their white wines or not ... getting a real feel for the type of consumers over there."
This is Mr Maasdam's first trip to China and he said the timing was right to break into the Chinese market.
"We need to be in mainland China as it's a huge market," he said.
Mr Yorke said the Chinese market had great appeal for New Zealand wineries for a variety of reasons. These included the fast-growing Chinese middle class, the many high-end restaurants in Shanghai, the good match between Chinese food and New Zealand wine and the prospect of a free trade agreement between the two countries.
Mr Maasdam said China's culture of celebrating food leant itself to drinking New Zealand wines. He also said China was quickly becoming a wine-producing country with increasing knowledge about and interest in wine.
Australian wineries had already moved into the Chinese market, but with different styles of wine, he said.
The New Zealand Wine group will also visit Korea and Japan.