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For Australian Winemakers, Chinese Relationships Are Bearing Fruit

Wang Zhe, a wealthy Chinese businessman from Guangzhou, liked his glass of decade-old Chardonnay at an Australian winery so much he wanted more. So he asked to buy the entire vintage.

It was the sort of offer, made over roast lamb and vegetables at a dinner in Wang’s honor, that has sent Australian wine exports to China soaring by 63 percent, hitting A$848m ($660m) last year. And Col Peterson, the winemaker behind the Chardonnay, said Wang is the kind of buyer who has upended Australia’s wine industry.

At the dinner party, Wang, wearing a red hoodie and Prada loafers, said through a translator who works at Peterson’s Hunter Valley vineyard that the wine was“amazing.”

“I’ve tried a lot of wines from different countries, and after that I thought:‘Australian wine is very good,’” said Wang, whose purchase at the vineyard, some 250km (155 miles) north of Sydney, sought to add more wine to a collection already full of Burgundy and Bordeaux.

His association with Peterson illustrates how Australian winemakers are cultivating connections in China, the world’s fastest-growing wine market, that are bearing valuable fruit even as entrenched European exporters are hitting headwinds.

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It was the sort of offer, made over roast lamb and vegetables at a dinner in Wang’s honor, that has sent Australian wine exports to China soaring by 63 percent, hitting A$848m ($660m) last year. And Col Peterson, the winemaker behind the Chardonnay, said Wang is the kind of buyer who has upended Australia’s wine industry.

At the dinner party, Wang, wearing a red hoodie and Prada loafers, said through a translator who works at Peterson’s Hunter Valley vineyard that the wine was“amazing.”

“I’ve tried a lot of wines from different countries, and after that I thought:‘Australian wine is very good,’” said Wang, whose purchase at the vineyard, some 250km (155 miles) north of Sydney, sought to add more wine to a collection already full of Burgundy and Bordeaux.

His association with Peterson illustrates how Australian winemakers are cultivating connections in China, the world’s fastest-growing wine market, that are bearing valuable fruit even as entrenched European exporters are hitting headwinds.

Read full article