CASSEGRAIN Wines is continuing to make a mark overseas, with exports to China expected to double this year.
Cassegrain’s managing director, John Cassegrain, said the company had recorded “strong demand” for its products in China, where it launched last year in conjunction with locally-based company Coast 2 Coast.
He said this year’s 400-tonne vintage – Cassegrain’s biggest in several years – would make it possible for the company to double its exports to China, building on the back of other strong export markets.
Exports from the Port Macuarie-based winery now represent more than 35 per cent of the winery’s total revenue.
“Our largest market continues to be Japan, where we have been selling our products since 1987 in restaurants and hotels and selling to commuters on board the country’s high-speed bullet trains,” Mr Cassegrain said.
Cassegrain’s traditional export markets have been Asia, Thailand and Malaysia.
It is also looking at Korea and Vietnam but Mr Cassegrain said the “real growth” was in China.
Other export markets closer to home such as Vanuatu and Fiji were small but exciting.
Mr Cassegrain said approximately 60 per cent of the wines being sold to Japan were reds and 40 per cent whites.
He said the percentages were slowly changing – with the Japanese drinking more and more whites – indicating the market was maturing.
He said Japanese food is more suited to white wine.
Mr Cassegrain said the export market in China was still “very much” red but he expects it to change over the next 10 years.
Coast 2 Coast has been working in China for the past 20 years and has built up considerable knowledge on the processes and systems used on a day to day basis.
He said Cassegrain had been able to draw on that experience with excellent results and would hopefully enable the company to be able to position itself for the long term.
He said people in China were willing to pay very good money for “high profile” wines but would pay little for wines with no profile.
He said Cassegrain was in no position to compete with wineries from around the world on price and would continue to focus on quality and on building on its profile.
Mr Cassegrain said the corporate gift market was particularly lucrative.
Cassegrain also has a retail outlet in China selling to expatriates and is moving into the restaurant market.
The retail outlet is located in a second tier city of about 13 million people.
Mr Cassegrain said the aim was to focus on the smaller cities and gradually build its reputation.
Traditionally, North Amercia and Europe have been the growth markets for wine exporters but the emphasis has now shifted to Asia and to China in particular.
Mr Cassegrain said the domestic wine market was still “very difficult”.
He said the winery was concentrating on its cellar door and iniatives such as its wine club to help gather momentum.
On the bright, he said, there had been increasing interest from other wineries in Cassegrain’s ability to produce sparkling wines.
It is currently one of only three wineries in NSW