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Free-trade deal helps WA wine sales to China by Jenne Brammer24/08/2017  

Rockcliffe Winery owner Steve Hall.Picture: Laurie Benson

Denmark’s Rockcliffe Winery is making big inroads into China.

After inking an exclusive distribution arrangement with export company Winsome Trading, Rockcliffe owner Steve Hall has seen sales to China grow from nothing to $250,000 annually within two years.

Rockcliffe expects to sell $400,000 of wine to China this financial year.

He said the China Australia Free Trade Agreement was making WA wine more competitive, a trend that would accelerate as tariffs were reduced in coming years.

But there are further reasons for his success. Mr Hall, a former oil and gas geologist, said his company had been striving to improve quality within the current price band, a strategy that had been well received with the Chinese.

“A lot of poorer quality Australian wine has historically been sold into China. We are aiming to deliver a higher quality product that is still affordable,” he said.

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Mr Hall supports Winsome Trading in its distribution efforts by attending the major wine and trade shows in China, which can attract up to 250,000 people.

“It makes a big difference if the owner or winemaker can be at the trade shows, on hand to be introduced to the clients,” he said.

Wine Australia figures show WA wine exports to China grew by 29 per cent in 2016-17 to more than $19 million. Wine Australia senior analyst Mark Rowley said more WA companies had sent wine to China, while existing exporters increased average revenues by 13 per cent.

Margaret River producer Jarvis Estate has been selling wine to China for a decade. Owner Matt Jarvis expects to sell about $60,000 worth this financial year through agents Dynasty.

Rockcliffe expects to sell $400,000 of wine to China this financial year.Picture: Albany Advertiser

He said tariff reductions from the free-trade agreement were not necessarily being passed on to Australian winemakers but it made Australian prices more competitive against other countries.

“Tariff reductions also make wine more competitive against beer and spirits in China,” he said.

Mr Jarvis plans to increase his sales to China by partnering with his agent and a syndicate of local investors to establish a winery in central China. This would provide a cellar door for Jarvis Estate’s WA wines.