Chinese are thirsty for GV exports

By Country News

As distribution channels become easier to navigate, the burgeoning Chinese market has ripe opportunity for wines from the Goulburn Valley and surrounds, some industry figures say.

Longleat and Murchison Wines’ Guido Vazzoler said China was becoming more important, based on its population base alone.

‘‘Over the last five years, we’ve seen a real increase, not in the volume, but the value (of wine),’’ Mr Vazzoler said.

He said the Chinese population was increasingly developing an appetite and interest in red wine in particular, but clarified that export opportunities in China were anything but ‘‘a silver bullet for our industry’’.

‘‘Whilst we’re producing really good wines at good prices, we’re seeing them as a really good market.’’

Mr Vazzoler said the region’s bigger wineries would be in the export market, with medium-sized wineries certainly exploring opportunities.

He said trade barriers still existed and many Chinese buyers still tended to target wines from bigger-name regions.

‘‘Even (this region’s) entry-level red is very good quality, there’s plenty of opportunity for this region... more from a marketing point of view than price,’’ he said.

Fowles Wine’s Matt Fowles said his wines had been active in the Chinese market for some time.

‘‘We view it as one of four key export markets,’’ he said.

While not without difficulties, he said Fowles’ business had grown there, but argued the appetite for wine in China still remained small in relative terms.

He said while there were plenty of wine buyers there, selling to parties with established distribution channels in China could be challenging.

Mr Fowles said it was more desirable to find long-term export relationships, rather than one-off sales.

He remained confident kinks in product distribution channels would improve over time.

And he argued local wines made an ‘‘excellent’’ fit in China.

With Chinese cuisine in mind, Mr Fowles said wines from central Victoria were well placed to match.

Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive Sam Birrell said for good quality shiraz and cabernet in particular ‘‘that can be exported and sold at a medium price, I think the region has got good potential’’.

He said with the climate and soils in mind, regional varieties could prove marketable.