The wines of Orange River Cellars are slowly but surely capturing the
imaginations of the emerging Chinese wine market. Although Orange River
Cellars have been exporting wine to China in limited quantities for the
past five years, an increase in requests for its wine during recent
months, forced them to send representatives to the Far East for further
discussions, which culminated in substantial export deals for quality
According to Koos Visser, marketing manager of Orange River Cellars, China is currently one of the most exciting wine markets worldwide.
"Due to its huge population and the growing middle class China's thirst for wine offers great opportunities for all wine producing countries," says Visser. "A recent study predicted that the Chinese wine market will grow between 2010 and 2014 with 20% to 127 million cases (12 bottles) of wine per year. This will make them the sixth biggest wine consumer in the world." This potential naturally led to a rush from wine countries trying to tap into the Chinese market.
"During our visit we realised that more than 70% of all wine consumed in China is red wine," says Visser. "Also, French wines are still the most popular due to that country’s image as the traditional home of wine."
According to Visser the Chinese are especially interested in the image of Orange River Cellars which is in great contrast to that of the French. The Chinese especially value the unique and wild landscape of the Orange River wine region.
"They enjoy the unspoilt African environment and the Chinese government are already making vast investments in Africa," says Visser. "The story behind the wines of Orange River Cellars, namely that it is situated in a unique environment on the border of the Kalahari where whild animals roam free in their natural habitat, definitely appeals to the Chinese. After just one visit the orders have been coming in and we are looking forward to building a healthy relationship with this special wine market."
According to Visser another advantage is that the Chinese market prefers bottled wine to bulk wine where large volumes are pumped into tanker ships. Selling bottled wine, on the other hand, adds value to the South African side of the production chain.
"We're achieving better prices which can be a tremendous boost for Orange River Cellars, its members and the whole region," says Visser. "This is due to the improved quality of our wines, which can, in turn, be attributed to improved viticulture practices."
Visser and Chris Venter of Orange River Cellars's Keimoes cellar visited Shenzhen in the Guangdong province, as well as Jinjiang in Fujian.
"It is a challenge to bridge the cultural barrier but as long as you are willing to keep your glass full and say 'gan bei!' (cheers!) together with your hosts, you will be able to do business in the same language."