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Importers toast the future of South African wines

By Lu Chang  (China Daily)

08:37, January 14, 2013

The Kleine Zalze vineyard in South Africa. The nation's wine makers are being forced to make greater inroads in China, after falling demand from Europe. [Photo/China Daily]

As the taste for foreign wines grows in China, the Cape producers look to the country to make up for falling demand in the European market, reports Lu Chang

Despite a surging demand for wine in China, South African makers have been unable to make much headway in the market, due to stiff competition from European and other major wine producing countries.

Wines from France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Chile and the US - collectively known in the industry as "the big six" - account for 90 percent of the country's foreign wine consumption, the latest industry figures show, with South African wines accounting for just 3 percent of the Chinese market.

But experts now say that could all be about to change.

"Is it tough to sell South African wines? Yes," said Jim Boyce, a well-known wine writer, who runs the industry website Grape Wall of China.

"Most people know little about them. They don't have easy access to them in some cities, and instead tend to buy from brands and countries they know.

"But the situation is changing because there are distributors expanding throughout the country with South African wines in their portfolios, and there is a growing niche of consumers interested in trying new wines."

There are around 20 companies importing South African wines to China, including Wineriver Trading Co, which imports wines from there, Chile and France.

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