China: We Love NY Wine
By : Jane Flasch 2012-4-5 15:19:49
Canandaigua, N.Y. - China is a notoriously difficult market to crack into. Yet representatives from Shanghai are in the Finger Lakes Region with an offer- if we build it will you come?
“This is a very good opportunity, a first-time ever opportunity,” says Jinshui Zhang of NYS Small Business Development Center, who helped negotiate the deal.
US wine exports add up to a $1.4 billion a year business. Nine out of 10 bottles exported come from California. But the Chinese want their wine from the other coast.
“Everything manufactured in New York, we love that,” Zhang says of his native country.
On the one hand, the Chinese people want to buy from us. Yet navigating regulations and paying tariffs make doing business in that county difficult and expensive for U.S. companies.
“It is a huge market with a lot of potential but also a lot of pitfalls,” says Jim Trezise, president of New York Wine & Grape Foundation.
Now the Chinese government wants to open a new tasting center exclusively for New York wines. It will be located at the Exhibition and Trading Center in Shanghai, a huge invitation-only free trade zone.
“It’s an actual location, a facility that will be the center for people to come and taste,” says Trezise. “It will also serve as a warehouse that if distributors want to take the wine to other parts of China, they can.
“This is a very good opportunity,” says Zhang. “It is the first time ever such a facility is made available exclusively to New York State wineries.”
Experts say the Chinese have a preference for sweet wine - a good match for Riesling and other sweet reds grown and bottled here.
To be part of the deal, interested wineries would have to pay to cover certain costs upfront, and guarantee a supply of wines for tasting and distribution. More than half of the wineries in the Finger Lakes Region do not produce enough quantity to be eligible.
But plenty of representatives are attending sessions around the state to learn more.
“This is a turn-key operation and a way to get a foothold in China,” explains Trezise.