New York wineries eye Chinese market
The Middle Kingdom may soon develop a taste for Empire State wines.
The state’s Small Business Development Center, partnering with a Chinese agency dealing in international business, is setting up the New York State Wine Outlet.
The booth, to be part of the Exhibition and Trading Center in the city of Shanghai’s free-trade zone, would serve as a permanent, year-round promotional and marketing site for pitching New York wines to high-volume Chinese buyers such as hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and government agencies.
“The Chinese are looking for your product,” Jan Pisanczyn, Rochester regional director of the Small Business Development Center, said Monday as the state agency and a pair of Chinese officials pitched the idea to a handful of Finger Lakes wineries. “This is not ‘if’ or ‘maybe.’ ”
New York is the nation’s second-largest wine producer behind California, turning out more than 24 million gallons in 2011, according to U.S. Treasury Department figures. But in terms of sales overseas, the Golden State rules the roost.
The U.S. exported $1.4 billion worth of wines in 2011, with California accounting for 90 percent of those bottles, according to data from the California wine industry trade group the Wine Institute. China and Hong Kong accounted for slightly more than $125 million of that business — about a third of what Canada did.
But the state Wine Outlet is a way to get a jump on other U.S. wine competitors such as California in the growing Chinese market, Pisanczyn said.
While high-proof liquor is traditionally more popular in China, wine is gaining popularity particularly among the growing middle class, said Jinshui Zhang, Small Business Development Center director of international programs.
Much of the meeting at The College at Brockport’s Small Business Development Center offices in downtown Rochester was a sales pitch — the wineries being told that for $3,000 a year, they collectively get the staffed booth and access to trade shows in China.
“Anything saying ‘New York,’ (the Chinese consumer) is going for it,” Zhang said.
The Small Business Development Center will host a similar meeting Tuesday involving upstate wineries, this time at the state Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua.
The Small Business Development Center is sending a trade mission to China in June to focus on the state wine pavilion idea, Pisanczyn said.