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Chinese millionaires sample local drops and spark export hopes

geelongadvertiser.com.au by Chad Van Estrop17/03/2017  

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THE seeds for expanding the Bellarine’s growing wine -export market were sown yesterday as a foreign trade delegation toured the region.

Thirty Chinese delegates, with a net worth of more than $4 billion, visited Scotchmans Hill winery in Drysdale to sample the region’s distinct flavours, with a view to eventually importing our wine.

Chairman of investment group Fortune Club, Ye Hongxian, said it was looking to -expand to include Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula.

“We would certainly like to import some of this wine. There are so many good opportunities and brands here,” Mr Ye said through an interpreter.

“We will be promoting Geelong’s wine to reach Shanghai. Our aim is to build a platform to promote investment and trade.”

According to Wine Australia, China has overtaken the US as the biggest buyer of Australian wine, paying about $474 million for the product in 2015.

Yuan Ming Xu, who led a delegation from a province in China’s east, said the quality of wine made on the Bellarine meant it could easily fit into the Chinese market.

“People in China like drinking Australia’s wine,” Mr Xu said through an interpreter.

“We think the taste and flavour of Australian wines are important for the Chinese people to taste.”

Mr Ye and Mr Xu are some of 150 delegates from 19 countries touring the state on the government’s inbound trade mission costing $12 million over four years.

The Chinese delegation of about 30 also toured the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery yesterday to witness the production first hand.

Chief winemaker at Scotchmans Hill, Robin Brockett, said the company was exporting shiraz and cabernet to Shanghai and Beijing.

“The taste of our wines is unique because of where we are on top on a hill (in Drysdale); even though we are on a peninsula it’s like we are on an island. It has a big influence of the ripening and flavour of our fruit,” Mr Brockett said.

“Majority of what the Chinese want to drink is shiraz and cabernet. They’re a developing country as far as their wine tastes go.”

He said the winery would export its new Jack & Jillrange to China.

The range, including a sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz, cannot be bought in shops.

Mr Brockett said the China-Australia free-trade agreement was encouraging winemakers to export due to low tariffs.

“The Chinese market has become the biggest market for Australian wine and overtaken Europe,” he said.