China‚Äôs wine consumption is expected to reach 828 million liters in 2011. China is drinking an average of 1.2 billion bottles of wine a year - with most of them being premium imported wine. French imports, particularly from the Bordeaux region, represent the largest share of imports, representing half of all wine imports to China. French estates such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Mouton Rothschild are actively marketing to Chinese by incorporating Chinese characters into their wine labels, while Burgundy estates are running tours and wine tastings in China.
Australia is also a leading importer of wine to China, representing 16% of China‚Äôs wine imports (down from 20% the prior year). China is now the biggest market for wine priced higher than Australian $10, close to the size of the US and UK combined. And the China market is growing, while the US and UK markets are shrinking. Australia‚Äôs wine exports to China grew 32% last year, while exports shrank 20% to the US and 33% to the UK.
Accordingly, Australia‚Äôs wine bureau and individual wineries are stepping up their marketing to Chinese consumers.¬† Wine Australia, the Australian government‚Äôs industry marketing body, brought 100 wine importers, retailers and restaurateurs from China and sent them to 16 wineries across Australia to learn first-hand about regional wines and the handmade nature of the winemaking process.
Australian winery Penfolds is launching one of its new wines - Special Bin 620 retailing at US$548 per bottle - in China, marking its first ever launch outside of Australia. Family owned Australian Winery, Bird in Hand, has opened two stores in Northeast China with tasting rooms and vines transplanted from their vineyards in Australia.
Demand for wine in China is largely driven by the desire to give wine as business or personal gifts, with red wine being a popular choice for its traditional color in China. Red and gold labels also tend to be popular for gifts.
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