California Wines Cracking the Chinese Market
With a booming economy and an estimated 19 million consumers of foreign wine (and the potential for many millions more), China is high up on the list of desirable markets for California wine.
To tap even further into that vast market, two delegations of California vintners this spring made week-long trips to major Chinese cities to promote the state’s wines, part of an effort that includes a three-year awareness-building campaign targeting Chinese consumers with advertising, point of sale, educational materials, a website and social media. An April trade mission headed by California governor Jerry Brown saw the unveiling of “California Wines Master Class,” a program for trade and media that covers wine history, climate, regions, varietals and food pairings.
“Chinese consumers are learning quickly about the connection between California as a world-class travel destination and California as a source of world-class wines,” said Lindsay Gallagher, Director of International Marketing for the Wine Institute, which has worked extensively to promote the state’s wines via tastings, educational programs, sponsored visits and trade missions. “As they grow in their understanding of the quality and diversity of California wines, so will our sales.”
Those efforts certainly seem to be paying off. China is now California’s fifth-largest export market, accounting for $74 million in sales last year, up nearly 20 percent from 2011, which itself saw a 42 percent increase from the year before.
Not surprisingly, Wine Institute president and CEO Robert Koch is bullish on the continued growing of California’s presence in the Middle Kingdom. “Wine is a signature industry for California and one of our state’s top agricultural exports. Our exports to China have nearly doubled in the past two years and the country represents a great opportunity for California wineries.”