With Australia now claiming the top spot for wine exports by value to China, Australia’s top exporters are finally reaping the rewards of years of hard graft. For some, like Chinese wine export pioneer Warren Randall, part of their success lies in theirwillingness to seek out new routes to market by going places none of their peers have been before.
Warren Randall is the co-owner of Barossa Valley winery Seppeltsfield which teamed up with Minquan Jiuding Wine Company Ltd in 2017 to found Chateau Seppeltsfield Minquan. This unique project is the first ever Chinese chateau to be part-owned by an Australian winemaker with Seppeltsfield claiming a 37 percent stake in the AU$75 million project.
Chateau Seppeltsfield Minquan is located in the province of Henan, just an hour’s drive from Henan’s capital Zhengzhou which has almost 10 million residents. As well as selling the estate’s own wines, the site also sells Seppeltsfield wines direct to the consumer at the cellar door and markets visits to Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley to Chinese tourists.
The decision to invest away from China’s major cities has given Seppeltsfield an opportunity to introduce their wines to new audiences who may have had little contact with Australian wine. “When you think about population there may well be more than enough people within Henan to build a strong brand in the local market – China is not the kind of country where you can say ‘I’m going to be across the entire country unless you’re Coca-Cola’,” commented Dr Justin Cohen, the Senior Research Scientist at the Ehrenberg Bass Institutefor Marketing Science.
“This is a very exciting and ambitious project and I think it could do wonders in helping build the awareness of Australian wine in parts of China that have not had much investment previously from a market development standpoint.”