Grape Press: Wine really *is* a passport… to Australia, and more

By Jim Boyce

China-related wine news from the Web…

Have wine, will travel

Wine really *is* a passport to the world. According to this story in the Sydney Morning Herald, some Chinese businesspeople are entering the wine business in Australia in order to secure visas and migrate to that country:

Winemakers and immigration lawyers say Chinese business people are targeting deals with the wine industry as one way to obtain proof of a commercial relationship with Australia….

Winemakers say a favoured target for such purchases is inexpensively priced wines, such as those from the Victorian regions of Riverina and Sunraysia….

Other winemakers report Chinese businessmen appearing at cellar doors for tastings, followed by immediate offers to purchase bulk quantities….

Wine exports… are gaining in popularity among Chinese businessmen seeking a product to export for the visa requirement, said a winemaker at a small Yarra Valley premium wine producer….

The winemaker said buyers are ”basically very affluent Chinese who want to relocate their families to Australia and want to have their children educated here.”

The Sydney Morning Herald points out that, for the most part, the wine flow between Australia and China is on the up and up:

No one interviewed for this story disputed the considerable interest in Australian wine from China, the great majority of which is legitimate, reflecting the rising appetite for Western wine among China’s burgeoning middle class.

In the year to June Australia exported 25.1 million litres, up 84.3 per cent from a year earlier, according to the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation.

Try, try, and try again

A group of winery owners from Temecula in northern California will visit Hong Kong and Shenzhen in November to try and gain a foothold in the China market, according to this story. What I found interesting was that one wine maker has already twice had trouble in trying to crack the China market:

… Bill Wilson, of Wilson Creek Winery, said he lost $15,000 after a distributor who agreed to deliver Wilson Creek wines to China failed to pay up.

During a tour of China with non-Temecula wineries two years ago, Wilson said, he wasn’t allowed to give out samples because his wine supply was quarantined.

Still, Wilson said he’s willing to give China another try and is going on the trip.

Hong Kong restaurants seek staff to hit the bottle

The Standard reports in this story of a shortage of sommeliers in Hong Kong:

Demand from the catering industry for wine experts has at least tripled in the past year despite tightening budgets due to the economic crisis.

A measure of this came as the Hong Kong Sommelier Association published its first list of 134 recognized sommeliers yesterday – and revealed that at least 200 well-paid vacancies remain.

“The market potential is much greater than that,” said HKSA chairman Nelson Chow Kwok-ming.

This demand, which is expected to rise, is seen to be linked to Hong Kong abolishing its wine duty last year and gaining prominence as one of the world’s wine hubs.

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