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Aust wine on offer at Mongolian 4WD fest

thewest.com.au by Trevor Chappell22/09/2017  

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Piers Lewis, from Australian wine distributor Dawine,
has his sights set on China's petrol heads.

Is offering Australian wine to at least a million middle-class petrol heads at an off road car festival in a desert in inner Mongolia a good idea?

Online wine distributor Dawine reckons it's worth a go.

Dawine will showcase and sell Australian and French wines at the week long Alxa FB-Life Festival to be held from October 1 in the Gobi Desert.

Dawine expects its presence will give the company exposure to China's expanding middle class, whose interest in wine is growing in line with their incomes.

Last year, this festival of wheels, sand, music, rock climbing, aerobatics, kung fu and wrestling attracted 936,000 visitors, even though it's an 18-hour drive from Shanghai.

Up to three million mostly Chinese visitors are expected in 2017.

Dawine executive chairman Piers Lewis says the Chinese government has been pumping money into building infrastructure for the Alxa Festival, and after the 2016 event, organisers concluded that the food and beverage offerings needed upgrading.

"I think previously they had some cask wine, and convenience stores and restaurants there had pretty ordinary wine as we understand it," Mr Lewis said.

"With that feedback, and the number of people that are attending, we thought it was a pretty good opportunity for a company like ourselves."

Mr Lewis said the Alxa Festival is hugely popular because it coincides with Chinese national holidays in early October.

"A lot of people take the opportunity to take their four-wheel drive out to the desert when they don't get the opportunity the rest of the year," he said.

After the four-wheel-drive enthusiasts get their vehicles dirty, some like to have a glass of wine.

"We're noticing in China that they are intrigued by western trends and what they see in movies and TV shows is that everyone is having a glass of wine with dinner," Mr Lewis said.

"So getting into their wine is becoming more accepted and seen as a trend."

Mr Lewis said Chinese consumers have usually favoured red wine, but in the recent northern hemisphere summer there was increased interest in rose and whites.

The Australian wines that Dawine will take to the Alxa Festival include Vasse Felix, Fox Gordon, Edwards and Atkins Farm.