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Tasmania exporting cool-climate wine to China

Anthony Woollams, General manager Nocton Vineyard inspects vines at Richmond, Tasmania
Nocton Vineyard's Anthony Woollams inspects young vines at Richmond, Tasmania.

ABC Rural: Margot Foster

In the early 1990s Wang Shan came to visit Tasmania from Beijing.

She was so taken with what she saw that she bought land north of Richmond to plant a vineyard so she could take something of what she loved about Tasmania back home to China.

For her it was wine grown in a beautiful clean natural environment.

Her vision was a vineyard selling Tasmanian wine into the lucrative Chinese gift market.

General manager at Nocton Park, Anthony Woollams said it was hard to imagine two more different environments.

"Tasmania has almost everything that Beijing doesn't — fantastic air, clean water, a product with great provenance … and all the things that Beijing really didn't have," he said.

"At the same time, Beijing had the things that we didn't — a strong market place and a population to sell the product."

Over the years business has not only grown but evolved as well.

Politically much has changed since the 1990s.

Anthony Woollams, General manager, Nocton Vineyard, Richmond Tasmania with map of China
Nocton Vineyards has expanded exports beyond Beijing to other parts of China.

ABC Rural: Margot Foster

When the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping enacted an anti-corruption drive this curtailed the gift market.

Nocton Vineyard reviewed its strategy to build brand recognition among a growing wine-drinking Chinese market.

Young Chinese familiar with global travel have driven the adoption of western style enjoyment of wine for relaxation and the vineyard has responded by expanding its wholesale outlets beyond Beijing into other provinces.

A key to this expansion is the recent opening of a cellar door at the Richmond vineyard and tapping into domestic markets to build brand awareness.

"Brand is incredibly important in China," Mr Woollams said.

"But brands are better thought of if built outside China.

"There's an inherent distrust still in Chinese consumers of Chinese products and brands, so we decided what we needed to be was a very strong Tasmanian brand with a very strong local Tasmanian image."

The company is building national distribution to all six states with a view to wider distribution throughout Asia.