The art of exporting wine to China
15 January 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto yet another edition of Old Mutual Live and it’s time to head back to Upington where we catch up once again with the Marketing Manager for the Orange River Cellars, Koos Visser. Koos, welcome onto Old Mutual Live once again, nice to chat, are you well?
Koos Visser: I am well, always, in the Northern Cape we’re always well.
BB: I love to hear that. Koos, the last time we spoke, we spoke a little bit about the awards that Orange River Cellars have picked up over the last couple of years, particularly 2015. What a great year it was and you touched on two international wine shows and competitions that you said were very important to what you guys were doing. One in particular was China. China is becoming a huge market for wine export. For the South African producers, it’s a huge opportunity, out east.
China is an important market for us
KV: Yes, for us, I think China is for the whole of South Africa a very important market, but it’s also a market that you must be very aware of, they are very finicky. They know exactly what they want, they know exactly what the wines they want. They are very particular on the packaging itself.
They want the products to be 100% spot-on when they receive it in China. There must never be a problem with the packaging as such. The wines they come and taste here, we host them every year, some of our clients. they come and taste the wines and go through the facility, bring some of the other clients with.
So it’s a good interaction and that’s the way you build relationships in China. If you do have a good relationship, if you can build a good relationship, it’s a lasting relationship for you. As long as you can produce what they want.
BB: Koos, you mentioned just how important it is for the whole of SA, from an Orange River Cellars perspective, what percentage of the wines that you produce do get exported to China?
Not too much wine exported yet
KV: At this stage, well, our total production is very small. We’re talking about, they normally order 40 foot containers at a time, it’s more or less one or two containers a month that they order. All bottled wines, wines packed in glass. But interestingly, you’d tend to think that China is a red wine country, they only drink red wines.
But the percentage of our white wines has become increasingly more going to China. They love the Colombard, they love some of the semi-sweet wines, they love the natural sweet Rosè wines and even the fortified wines are doing well. For me China is a very good market because they take wines from all over the range.
BB: Koos, I wanted to ask, is the wine consumption different, the patterns, are they different in China to what you’re seeing here, or at the trends very similar?
What are the Chinese’s wine tastes?
KV: Well, they are adapting. Initially, as I said, China started off as a country that only drank red wine because of the red wines being more healthy than white wines. But if it’s so, I can’t tell, I drink both. As I said, drinking patterns change over time and they drink a lot of white wine now. I think they’re catching up with the Western World. At this stage, most of the wines, they prefer wines to be in cork closure and good quality corks, not synthetic corks.
But they don’t mind the white wines, the Rosè wines to be in screw caps. I’m very sure that in the near future, even in China, you will find red wines with screw caps, if you don’t already find them there. Our clients prefer the red wines in cork closures, they say it ages better.
Do the awards give you credibility in that market?
BB: Looking at the awards that you’ve won in China for your wines, how important is that from a credibility standpoint? Particularly in the Chinese market, winning those awards, to make people aware of what you are doing. The general public, but also the quality of what you’re producing.
KV: I think it gives us a little bit of assurance that our wines and the style of our wines is fit for that specific market because all the wines that we enter receive accolades. For us it is very good and for our clients it’s very important because they carry that message forward to their clients again.
BB: Awesome, Koos, I think it’s amazing what you guys are doing. I’ve loved chatting to you and finding out more about what’s on the go and on the boil, so to speak, at Orange River Cellars. I much appreciate your time and we look forward to catching up again soon. I hope 2016 is your best year yet there at the cooperation and we look forward to chatting again soon, thanks for your time.
KV: Thanks very much, it was nice talking to you and I hope that we convey a nice message of the Northern Cape.