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10 things Bordeaux invented, Napa Valley learned, and Australia now knows

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According to the China Wines Information Website, the People’s Republic now is the top export destination for Australian wine in Asia, and demand is continuing to grow. As a result, the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation has developed a Wine Australia China Program that Aussie wineries can join, on a subscripton basis, in order to gain access to China’s burgeoning wine market, especially in Shanghai and Beijing. The WACP has developed a 10-point marketing program that’s pretty much an updated version of the way two other famous wine regions finagled their way to world dominance.

Here’s the program:

1. Encourage consumers to “trade up” from ordinary wines to “Brand Champions and Regional Heroes” that just happen to be from Australia
2. Inrease Austalian listings on hotel and restaurant wine lists
3. Position Australian wine as “an aspirational and premium category”
4. Arrange media visits to Australia by Chinese writers
5. Have trade shows in China
6. Hold private buyer tastings
7. Develop educational training programs, including visits to different Australian wine regions
8. Create wine “ambassadors” to travel and promote Australian wine
9. Improve bilingual communication in the trade
10. Stage meetings twice a year in Beijing and Shanghai with Chinese importers

This is an aggressive, smart and necessary way to do business, but it’s really not that different in concept from how it’s always been done. Bordeaux did the equivalent 200 years ago (under far more primitive conditions, of course), and so did Napa Valley from the 1960s-1990s. (Napa’s most visible ambassador was Robert Mondavi.) Both Bordeaux and Napa convinced aspirational consumers to “trade up,” and both certainly succeeded in getting on the world’s most important wine lists. And when it came to courting the media, Bordeaux wrote the book, and then Napa Valley re-wrote it.

This development reminds me once again of the fragility of predictions. On this blog a couple months ago I posted about a report from the London wine merchant, Berry Bros & Rudd, that global warming might result in hotter temperatures and water shortages that could end Australia’s huge wine export program and force Oz to become “a niche player.”

Well, Australia’s certainly getting the drought. But their play for the Chinese wine market — currently one of the world’s 6 largest, and, with a population of 1.4 billion, certainly the planet’s biggest in population — suggests those canny Aussies aren’t about to let some inconvenient weather bother them. As Australia’s trade commissioner for Shanghai, Christopher Wright, says, “China is the big, looming dragon sitting on every chief executive’s desk.” Some niche!

  1. Australia- the Land Down Under, the Land of Wonder not to mention great quality wines. Learn more about the culture, cuisine, terroir and wines of this amazing place in http://vino.com/country/australia/.

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