Coonawarra Grape and Wine Incorporated (CGWI) received $70,000 from Round 1 of the Premium Food and Wine Co-Innovation Cluster Program. The project aimed at accelerating the activities of an existing CGWI industry cluster, incorporating the Coonawarra Vignerons Association and the Coonawarra Grape Growers Association. A key aim of the cluster was to build greater capacity for wine companies to more effectively compete in the Chinese market, leveraging the benefits of being part of a larger group.
China is one of the fastest growing export markets for Australian wines and remains one of the largest destinations for Australia’s premium wine products. Coonawarra is recognised as a premium wine growing region, with a particular focus on crafting exceptional red wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Our cluster aimed at promoting our wine, the Coonawarra region and our various individual wine brands. We wanted to encourage collaboration, regional brand awareness and improve our long-term prospects in a growing international market receptive to Australian wines.” - Cathy Hughes, Wine Industry Manager, Coonawarra Grape and Wine Incorporated.
A key element of the CGWI cluster was participating in the Wine Australia China Roadshow event, which focused on educating Chinese trade, wine media and wine educators about the Coonawarra wine region. A delegation of eight Coonawarra wine companies travelled to China and were able to gain first-hand experience of the local market, and deal directly with trade representatives. For many of them, the experience highlighted the challenges of building export relationships in a rapidly growing, multi-faceted and complex international market.
Further to this work, the industry cluster carried out a number of other activities including the development of a strategic plan, further brand development for the Coonawarra wine region, public relations and event management activities and translation services for key promotional tools.
Having had the opportunity to work with China-based Wine Australia personnel meant that the delegates were participating in a series of supported and targeted key events without the difficulty of developing the breadth of trade contacts required for success. Beyond building market connections and new supply opportunities, the roadshow promoted the region to Chinese consumers as a premium food and wine tourism destination.
“The Cluster Program provided an opportunity for Coonawarra to showcase its regional wine credentials to a key international market.” - Cathy Hughes, Wine Industry Manager, Coonawarra Grape and Wine Incorporated.
Through the work of the cluster the various companies in the Coonawarra could present more effectively in the Chinese market, leveraging the benefits of being part of a larger group. The promotion of a more cohesive regional identity has also meant consumers can more readily recognise the region’s wine and the Coonawarra brand.
By producing a new Coonawarra brochure in Mandarin and English, CGWI members and local government and regional development personnel are now able to more effectively showcase the region and wines to Chinese visitors, and potential investors, in Coonawarra and the greater Limestone Coast region.
“Participating in the 2016 Wine Australia China Roadshow definitely raised the profile of the Coonawarra wine region. The collective approach was seen as absolutely more beneficial for each winery, than if each winery undertook their own marketing in the same four cities in China. Several delegates secured either a new distributor or a new export opportunity.” - Cathy Hughes, Wine Industry Manager, Coonawarra Grape and Wine Incorporated.
Looking ahead, CGWI will seek to build on the initial success of the roadshow to China, and nurture new relationships in the Chinese market and the opportunities that may follow both for local wine producers and the region.
While individual wine representatives benefitted directly from the experience, the Coonawarra region is now much more aware of what is needed to engage more strategically and economically with China, and similarly, understand this market’s needs in Australia.
Further information on Coonawarra Grape and Wine Incorporated can be found on their website: http://www.coonawarra.org.