South African wine industry plans more exports to China

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by Xinhua writer Lyu Tianran

CAPE WINELANDS, South Africa, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) – The constantly emerging vineyards along the roads of the southwestern tip of South Africa were nearly bare this time of September, the first month of spring here. Although in stark contrast to those in wine-growing countries in the northern hemisphere, South African wineries expect their vines to begin the annual growth cycle with a bud break during the month and harvest them around February.

Even a wine expert may not be able to recognize the different varietals upon onset at this point, given a wide range of varietals planted on farms in the Western Cape Province, where small to medium-sized wineries size could plant 20 grape varieties.

With traditional markets in Europe, the South African wine industry is now looking to export more of its products to a developing market – China, which has already become a target market for South Africa.

EMERGING MARKET FOR SOUTH AFRICAN WINES

Currently, most of the South African wines exported end up in Europe, but the wine industry is experiencing good growth in the Chinese market and for South African wines, the Chinese market is gaining more and more attention, a said Wines of South Africa CEO Siobhan Thompson. Xinhua in an interview at the organization’s headquarters in Stellenbosch on Tuesday, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town’s central business district.

Thompson will be with 22 members of the organization to participate in an online wine exhibition, South Africa-China Wine Digital Exhibition, on Wednesday to provide education and information on South African wines, educate Chinese customers and develop the user base of South African wines. in China.

Hosted by the Johannesburg branch of the China Construction Bank, the exhibition aims to promote continued cooperation between producers of high-quality South African wines and Chinese importers.

In 2020, South Africa was the eighth wine producing country, producing 4% of the wines in the world.

Sales of South African wines to China fell early last year when the latter was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but over the past 12 months there has been a “good recovery” and sales in China “are doing exceptionally well,” with strong growth in the value of exports and rapid growth in white wines and sparkling wines, said Thompson, who said the data indicated more Chinese consumers are drinking southern wines. -africans.

The organization, representing all South African producers of wine for export, is active in China on different media and platforms, and participates in roadshows in different cities to promote South African wines. He has organized nearly 50 events in the past 12 months alone.

“The Chinese market is a really important market for us for our future growth,” she said.

GREAT POTENTIAL OF SOUTH AFRICAN WINES IN CHINA

Idiom Wines in Somerset West, Cape Town, which currently has an importer based in Shanghai, China, will participate in the exhibition. Proud of its blend wines, such as the Bordeaux-style blend which has won multiple awards in wine competitions and the unique blend from Cape Town in South Africa, the winery said there was “a very bright future for South African wines in China and around the world, “as the country’s wine industry has only started to realize its potential in recent years.

Roberto Bottega, owner of Idiom, has prepared to show, through events like the exhibition, that South African winemakers are quality producers who make unique and quality wines, and to convince lovers of Chinese wine South African wines are “an important part of the world wine.”

The South African winemaker has planned a regional solution for South African wines in China that provides wines suitable for various Chinese cuisines. He cited an example of spicy food in western China’s Sichuan Province, suggesting that South African shiraz and viognier match the cuisine of that region, saying they are able to handle the food well. spicy flavor and adapt “beautifully” to the type of spicy food.

Julian Johnsen of Vondeling Wines bought a farm in an unspoiled mountain range of Paarl in the West Cape in 2000 and continues his 300 year wine history. The Briton planted 80 hectares of 15 different varieties and uses a historic building built in 1750 to accommodate tourists.

Johnsen, who has been to China several times, is looking for a good and serious importer for his wines in China.

“I see enormous potential for our wines in China. Because they are very undervalued and extremely good,” he said, insisting that South African wines are good although they are. less known in China compared to French, Italian and Australian wines.

Vondeling, which currently exports around 250,000 bottles of 12 different wines to China, has the capacity to export more if it finds serious importers, he says.

Based on his experience visiting China, Johnsen said that indigenous Pinotage wines from South Africa may match the keen interest of Chinese customers in red wines, adding that Vondeling’s Pinotage wines have in recent years been elected. twice the best Pinotage in South Africa. He also believed that his Rhône blends and Bordeaux blends will be very popular with Chinese consumers.

UNIQUE FLAVORS OF SOUTH AFRICAN WINES

“If you look at a wine master, who is the most skilled winemaker in the world, when he tastes the wine, he smells it and tastes it, then he can tell you not only which grape varieties, but which country, which country. region, and sometimes which vineyard they come from, ”said Julian Johnsen in his vineyard on the mountain slope, suggesting that different vineyards have distinct flavors and that the soil, appearance, sun and handling of the man are the main elements that go into the flavor of wines.

Primarily located in river valleys, Western Cape wine producers produce 93 percent of South African wines each year, according to Wines of South Africa. The country is a world leader in the production of Pinotage and Chenin Blanc-based wines originating in France, and has the largest number of Chenin Blanc plantations in the world, according to Wines of South Africa CEO Siobhan Thompson.

The massive body of the Atlantic Ocean, the cool cool breeze, the ancient soils but the shorter history of grape plantation could give the region a chance to produce wines with different flavors compared to European countries, even using grapes of the same variety, according to Roberto Bottega, the owner of Idiom.

Before Idiom opened its facilities to visitors in 2016, the Bottega family used another winery in the coastal town of Hermanus, in the Western Cape, to receive visitors. The family decided to invest in Idiom’s own facility in Somerset West because “it is important that every wine has a sense of place,” he said.

The South African wine industry has seen many developments over the past decade, and with new techniques and winemaking methods it has now reached a new level, he says.


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