Mindful of China’s growing middle class and increasing taste for wine, Wine Institute conducted a virtual wine tasting in San Francisco, July 7, between California vintners and a select group of lifestyle media in Shanghai.  The event was part of Wine Institute’s newly launched global branding campaign for California Wines in China, consisting of a full array of promotional activities to expand exports to this important wine market.

U.S. wine exports to China, 90 percent from California, were $45 million in 2010, a 27 percent increase in revenues from the previous year.

The goal of the virtual tasting is to provide depth and context to Wine Institute’s “Discover California Wines” campaign that is currently running in Shanghai with ad placements including bus wraps, subway bulkheads and light boxes, and luxury shopping mall billboards.  From San Francisco, the winemakers will introduce their wines and provide a guided tasting.  The participants in Shanghai will taste the same wines, as the winemakers walk through the descriptors on the video conference.

Participating vintners include: Master of Wine Mark DeVere of Robert Mondavi Winery; Winemaker Mike Martini of Louis M. Martini Winery; Winemaker Boyd Morrison of Apothic Wines; and Managing Partner Brent Shortridge of Anders-Lane Artisan Wines.

“The new global branding campaign is intended to target China’s emerging middle class with  luxury, high-end positioning,” said Linsey Gallagher, Wine Institute’s international marketing director.  Objectives of the campaign include developing the California wine brand in China; capitalizing on the California lifestyle image; reaching affluent Chinese consumers where they live, commute, work and play; increasing awareness of California wines; generating word-of-mouth; positioning the Shanghai market for long-term growth; and most importantly – boosting sales of California wines, she explained.  The first phase of the campaign launched in June and will continue into July.

Wine Institute has supported California wine exports to China through retail and on-premise promotions, trade and consumer tastings in multiple regional markets and educational programs for media and trade.  Wine Institute sponsors an annual trip to California for Chinese lifestyle and trade media.  Past activities have occurred in over 10 regional markets in China, including: Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Dalian, Qingdao, Xiamen, Ningbo, Wenzhou and Wuhan.

Trade Mission to Four Cities

Last month, Wine Institute completed a four-city trade mission to China with 27 California winery delegates, representing 68 wineries and 95 California wine brands, the largest California winery representation ever.  The 2011 China Tour included visits to Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Since 2000, Wine Institute has conducted 11 trade mission/tour activities in China and California vintners have been part of the delegation each time.