Wine column: Face-to-face marketing


Australian wine centres and co-operatives are recognising the benefits of Chinese targeted marketing campaigns which allow Chinese government officials and local Chinese distributors a first hand look and experience of Australian wineries, writes Jeremy Oliver.

The western Victorian town of Ararat has become the focus of an innovative wine production and marketing effort aimed at the Chinese market, especially its sister city, Taishan. The only Victorian town founded by Chinese, Ararat receives between 10–15 Chinese government delegations each year.

Tnmit_ararat_vineyard_webhe Grampians-Pyrenees Wine Co-operative is a local government-business partnership including nine wineries from the Grampians and Pyrenees wine regions and the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT). Its first shipment of around 10,000 litres of its Ararat Gold Shiraz from 2008 is now en route to China.

Blended by the talented local winemaking duo of Simon Clayfield and Michael Unwin at NMIT’s 300-tonne winery at Aradale (pictured left), the wine was initially launched at Ararat’s Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre. Prior to the launch, the launch of the Co-operative itself was attended by Mr Shen Weilan, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China, who traveled to Ararat for the for the occasion.


Ararat Gold was introduced in China at a tasting this June at the Taishan Phoenix Country Hotel, an event attended by around 200 wine retailers and resellers. A Taishan-based agent has since been appointed. Simon Clayfield looks forward to the release of the 2010 vintage next year, the first vintage specifically made for this imaginative project.

The Jacob’s Creek wine brand has been the focus of attention for 600 Chinese visitors to the Adelaide, the Barossa Valley and Sydney as part of Pernod Ricard’s increasing level of engagement with Australian wine. Leaving only a skeleton staff in China, the company took virtually its entire Chinese team to Australia, where they were hosted by local subsidiary Orlando Wines. Orlando’s managing director, Stephen Couche, says his team embraced the challenge of making the visit – which  was the first outside China for many of the visitors – as memorable an introduction to Australia as possible.

Coordinating a team involved in transport, accommodation and interpreting, with information sessions across all levels of the wine business, Orlando’s management pulled off a comprehensive experience that has developed new levels of connection between Jacob’s Creek, its people and its partners in China.wine_tasting_web

According to Couche, the visit has helped cement long-term relationships and will trigger a series of cooperative ventures between the Australian and the Chinese groups. ‘Pernod Ricard will have more people working in the Chinese market, and we look forward to them visiting us again, especially with their customers’, he says.

* Wine tasting with Jacob’s Creek’s Chief Winemaker as part of Pernod Ricard’s mission to bring its 600 Chinese employees to South Australia in July. (Jacob’s Creek / Orlando Wines)

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Orlando’s preparation for the visit, which was more than twice the size of their largest comparable event, involved several cultural awareness sessions for the Australian team. Importantly, all events were managed to encourage an active mixing between visitors and hosts.

Australia is fortunate to be recognised as the Partner Country for this year’s Hong Kong Wine Trade Fair, which runs from November 4-6. The timing of this opportunity is critical for the continued expansion of Australian wine into the region, especially given Hong Kong’s recent rise in status amongst world wine markets.

I am fortunate to have been invited by the Hong Kong Trade Development Corporation to participate in this event by promoting Australian wine, and look forward to being able to represent as wide a range of quality Australian wines as possible to one of the world’s most influential trade, media and public audiences.

*Jeremy Oliver is a professional wine critic and the author of the Australian Wine Annual. Contact the author at:


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