New Emissary

Sauvignon Blanc Goes Asia

Do New Zealand winemakers now see Asia as the next major market for its white wines?

Yet another country world famous for its wine is turning to China as a potentially highly lucrative and major new trading partner.

According to the New Zealand Herald this weekend, ‘China is now the New Zealand wine industry's fastest-growing export market.’ The chairman of New Zealand Winegrowers, Stuart Smith, affirmed also that for his country’s winemakers, the market is definitely shifting from being predominantly set in the West, in regions like the UK and Australia, toward Asia: ‘the continent where the highest average prices are achieved.’

So it seems that New Zealand winemakers’ efforts, over the past decade in particular, to actively promote their wines in China is now really paying off. David Jackson, general manager of an esteemed NZ winery, Stonyridge, has spoken out on China in particular, saying it’s currently the company’s biggest export destination and gets, on average, ten inquiries a week. Jackson adds that sales to China are on more than just an incline—but rather that it's the one market that is ‘really just going at a vertical.’

However, there does seem to remain a continued challenge of educating Chinese wine drinkers on New Zealand’s quality whites, as they tend to be more familiar with European, especially French, reds.

I’m personally a great fan of New Zealand Sauvignon blancs, and have been for at least five years now—in particular all those from the Marlborough region, that never disappoint and have very fair prices, like Kim Crawford’s  benchmark varietal. As a big bonus, this New Zealand winemaker also launches great initiatives for the local art community, which I mentioned here last year.