A who’s who of Asia and Australia’s wine writing cyber world is helping to fuel the sales of Martinborough’s vintage following a two day wine and culinary experience in the boutique Wairarapa wine village.
Hosted by Wines From Martinborough, the visit by the select group of international media movers and shakers was part the world class Martinborough wine areas’ latest push to spread its name and increase wine sales throughout Asia.
The eight Australian and Asian wine writing influences helping to drive Martinborough’s wine export market were treated to a variety of vineyard visits.
Fine regional food, tastings of rare cellared wines, lunches and tours were topped off with a seven-course degustation dinner with matched wines at Martinborough’s Parehau Country Estate.
Visiting writers, including Yu-Sen Li of Taiwan, Suzie Chung of South Korea, Sarah Mayo of Singapore, Dan Sims of Australia and Tersina Shieh, who services the Greater China market from Hong Kong, all operate in the cyber world of internet websites and blogs.
In Hong Kong alone, 90% of the population use iPhones, making blogging and social media the way of the future to push various markets, said Ms Shieh.
Getting Asian wine bloggers on board was a vital step to growing Martinborough’s presence in the Asian markets, said Wines From Martinborough chairwoman, and co-owner of local exporting vineyard Vynfields, Kaye McAulay.
Nearly 60% of Wairarapa’s 43 wineries are actively involved in exporting their wine.
It’s about cultivating wine champions, who could promote Martinborough wines effectively in Asian markets, she says.
“In the past the focus has been on the US and Europe markets, but there has been a shift toward Asian markets. The future of the economy is in Asia. You have young professionals there moving into western food and western wine.
“The bloggers in Asia are the people who drive the wine drinking and wine purchasing more than in the western world. We are now realising just how important these people are in shaping the industry. It is an interesting revolution going on and the reality for us selling our products is that they are the future of wine sales in Asia,” she said.
Figures from the New Zealand Wine Growers Association support the rising success of New Zealand wines in Asia.
According to association chief executive Philip Gregan, Asian markets are now a key focus for New Zealand wineries as they seek to grow their business beyond the traditional markets of Australia, the UK, the United States and Canada.
Exports into Asia could reach NZ$100 million by late this year, from around NZ$60 million last year, the Association has previously said.
Suzie Chung, a columnist, Wine 21.COM reporter and avid wine blogger from South Korea, said the telecommunications evolution was changing the way Asians sought out information on wines.
“Korea is like ‘connectopia,’ where everyone wants to be connected with each other. I write a blog and promote a Martinborough wine which is on the market here for example and all of a sudden hundreds of other blogs blog about my blog, and the word spreads. We can get 10,000 hits about one wine in one day alone as the word spreads through the internet.”
Wine appreciation in Korea was an accidental success, she said.
“Around 2006, there was a huge growth in wine sales driven off the back of programmes promoting the health benefits of drinking red wine. The market grew at that time by around 140 per cent and even though an economic crisis which followed in 2009 shrunk that market, the word is spreading.
“People are now really aware of not just the promotion of health benefits’, but developing a true appreciation for various tastes and flavours.”
For more information please contact Kaye McAulay, chairperson, Wines From Martinborough (06) 306 9901 or 021 891 431.
According to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise: • The China market for domestic and imported wine has been developing rapidly, and it is now becoming a fashionable drink for the wealthy and elite. • Wine consumers in Hong Kong are mostly Chinese familiar with Western food and beverage products, Europeans and expatriates. Similar to other Asian countries, Hong Kong is primarily a red wine market. • Demand for New Zealand wine in gradually increasing in South Korea, but suppliers face a challenge in the form of inexperienced wine consumers • Despite the downturn, Taiwan has seen demand for wine grow substantially in the past year, making it the fourth largest Asian wine market. • Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Vietnam have a combined population of around 450 million, with wine consumers ranging from uninitiated to sophisticated.