20 Jan 2012
California's vintage wine sales
|Wine trade flows.|
Exports for the past 12 months jumped at least 23%, with Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland as big gainers.
The initial surge was as a result of a weaker dollar, adding value to California vintages. A bottle that cost about US$10 a few years ago, sold more recently for up to US$8.
But the strong push in 2011 was part of a developing trend that saw taste becoming as important as pricing.
Most Californian wine exports go to Europe, but exports to China, which account for about 5% of the total, increased over 35% compared with 2010, extrapolating from Wine Institute figures.
California's full-bodied red wines are particularly popular in China, because the fruity and bold taste matches spicy Chinese food.
US wine sales overall in China are benefiting from a strong economy and a growing middle class; fine wines fit with a more sophisticated lifestyle.
Hong Kong is a shop window for all manner of wines, in fact arguably the major global hub for wine storage and as an overall wine market.
US wine exports to Hong Kong were worth US$57 million in the 2010/2011 year, an increase of 494% since wines became duty-exempt in 2008.
Adding impetus to that trade was the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the US and Hong Kong in 2010, with a view to co-operating on the development of wine-related businesses.
Wine regulators from 18 Asia-Pacific governments met last September to share ideas on building the Pacific Rim wine trade.
Officials gathered with international wine industry representatives in San Francisco and Livermore Valley, California, at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) workshop to discuss reducing unnecessary impediments to trade, including streamlining regulatory import-export requirements.
The regulators also shared best practices on wine certification, analysis, winemaking practices and labelling in the region.
In the past decade, wine trade in the 21-nation APEC region has grown significantly, accounting for 26% of all global trade in 2010, up from 21.8% in 2000 and better regulation is expected to follow to protect the increasingly valuable trade.
from Teresa Hung, Los Angeles Office
(Image courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/cclickclick)
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