Winery owners raise glass to export boom

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Great Southern wines are being shipped to China by the tonnes.

Last year, exports to China grew by 43 per cent, making the Asian country the largest market for local wines.

Wines of WA chief executive Larry Jorgensen said China had easily become the biggest market for Great Southern wines because of the country’s growing economy.

This statement rings true for Denmark winery owner Steve Hall, who visited China six times last year to promote his award-winning wines.

“The Chinese want to buy a range of wine from various wineries, and they can get a whole range of it only from the Great Southern region,” he said.

“You can get a great chardonnay and pinot from Denmark, fabulous riesling from Porongurup and also excellent cabernet and shiraz from Frankland.

“If you go to other winery regions, you can still get high-quality wine, but not as diverse as ours.”

Mr Hall, who owns Rockliffe Winery, said he started selling his wines to China three years ago and received close to half a million dollars in export sales from China last year.

“But you can’t just send the wine to China, you have to be there and be seen with the wine with potential buyers, so I think that part is important,” he said.

“You have to work with them and develop a great working relationship with them.”

As exports to China continues to rise, European countries such as Finland and Sweden are also buying more wines from the Great Southern.

Mr Jorgensen said many people in Europe were buying WA white wines, while people in China preferred to buy reds.

“All the drivers are in place for this growth, and WA producers are feeling more confident again and therefore invest more ... so I expect the growth trend to increase once again,” he said.

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