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Feature: Argentine boutique winery targets China's high-end market

Xinhua by LUJAN17/04/2019  

One of Argentina's top wineries has set its sights on China as the leading destination for its high-end wines, citing China's booming market.

Chilean-owned Renacer launched operations in Argentina in 2001. Three years later, the company established its eco-friendly boutique winery in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in the town of Lujan de Cuyo in western Mendoza province.

"China's growth over the past 20 years -- its growth rates are so significant that we are focused there right now," Renacer's commercial manager, Rodolfo Gil, told Xinhua at the company's Tuscan-style headquarters.

"The United States is a gigantic market with a growth rate that is constant but low. China is large and has a very important growth rate, which is leading to an increasingly larger middle class," said Gil.

That's why "today, our focus is on China. We are betting on that market," he added.

Renacer is so committed to winning over Chinese consumers of premium wines that "we have hired a local to help us understand the culture a little, which is so totally different" from that in Argentina, said Gil.

In 2018, Argentina exported 2.7 million hectoliters of wine, up by 23.5 percent from a year ago, with total sales of 969.4 million U.S. dollars, or an 8 percent increase from 2017.

Renacer sold some 20,000 cases to China in 2017, each containing nine one-liter bottles, representing 18 percent of its total sales abroad.

"The mix of products that we sell in China is very good. It's not the winery's most inexpensive wine. On the contrary, we sell the most upmarket wines," said Gil.

Renacer sells wines to 46 countries currently and plans to keep production limited.

"We don't want to keep expanding because we want to continue to be a family winery, a small winery, with which we want to preserve our focus on the products we now have. Each one of our products is very characteristic of its line," Gil said.

"This year ... we are 100 percent focused on China. Our marketing budget for China is not the same as for any other country," he added.

The company hopes to boost sales there through e-commerce, so Renacer is developing an account on WeChat, a major social networking app in China. "We want to begin to make a strong entry into China's electronic marketplace," he said.

"Our bottles are produced in English but we add a QR code on the bottom (of labels) so consumers can see the technical data and a video," said Gil.

Lucas Amoretti, the winery's oenologist, said the company's success lies in its quality grapes and harvesting strategies.

"It is essential to have very good quality grapes. That's followed by a harvesting plan. The idea is to have the grape (processed) as clean as possible, with no leaves, to have a clean and healthy harvest," said Amoretti.

The next step involves cold maceration that lasts anywhere from three to five days "depending on the quality, if it's a classic, reserve or signature wine," he explained.

"From harvesting until sold at market, we are talking about at least three and a half years" for signature wines, "two years for reserve and under a year for the classic," said Amoretti.

"The whole team is very committed to making these wines. There is such personalized follow-up that the outcome are bottles with incredible traceability and a first-rate product," said Amoretti. Enditem