Warren Randall, Seppelstfeld

SA wine exports increased to $1.9 billion.

“The Australian wine industry owes a lot to Penfolds, It’s spearheaded the industry overseas.” Warren Randall attributes a lot of the success of Seppeltsfield’s entry into the Chinese market to the early work undertaken by Penfolds and Treasury Wine Estates.

“Any Australian wine brand with a similar history, heritage and provenance to Penfolds is seen to be in same ‘quality’ bracket in the Chinese market.

“So when you pair that with the quality of wines, we’ve been able to position ourselves as a premium and luxury brand within China - at the same time, allowing us to offer an entry-level product in-market too.”

Seppeltsfield has been hailed as the most historic winery and greatest showpiece in the Barossa.

Seppeltsfield provide ‘luxury’ bulk wine in 24,000 litre bladders to China, as well as their Seppeltsfield-branded bottled wine.

The winery also recently created an entry-level brand for the Chinese market called ‘One Pound Per Acre’. It is now stocked in China Tobacco outlets across the country.

Mr Randall, Executive Chairman of Seppeltsfield, highlights the scale of the opportunity that exists for Australian brands “There is a staggering 5,600,000 China Tobacco outlets in mainland China, and we’ve secured a contract for bottles of our One Pound Per Acre to be stocked in one in 40 stores - that’s 140,000 stores in total.”

As one of the world’s leading wine regions, South Australia’s wine industry plays a significant role in our state’s economy.

“Australian wine is worth about A$5 billion in wholesale sales and the value-add through regional economic activity and employment is probably twice that,” said Nick Waterman, President of the South Australian Wine Industry Association.

“The wine industry in South Australia directly employs 8,500 people, with many of these in regional areas.”

Australia exports over 62 per cent of its production at a value of A$2.9 billion to major markets of China, USA, UK and Canada. South Australia is responsible for 69 per cent of that wine export income

In recent years, South Australia has been enjoying a boom in exports to China.

“Over the last four years, growth in China has certainly been exponential,” said Nick.

“It overtook the US market in value in October 2016, and is now three times its size.

“During that period, 42 per cent of all Australian wine exports and 38 per cent of South Australian wine exports went to China.”

Developing a stronger export brand through collaboration

Looking ahead, Nick believes Australia needs to continue developing a stronger export brand with a more common voice, through collaboration.

“With close to 2,500 wineries in Australia there are brands within brands - Australia as a country has a reputation as a wine producer, then there are regions and the individual winery brands within these regions,” he said.

“We must foster an environment where large and small wineries coexist to create a rich fabric of regional diversity – from artisanal to those of scale all of which add to the history and provenance of the Australian wine brand.

“All play a part in the perception that markets and consumers have of Australia, so it is important that at each of these levels the message is consistent and reinforces the national brand position we wish to have.”

While the Chinese market has proven lucrative for South Australian wineries, both Nick and Warren believe it’s important not to lose sight of other key markets.

“Apart from China, we shouldn’t lose focus on the USA,” said Warren.

“The US is very important, it is the largest market in the world,” added Nick.

“But as exporters we have to spread the risk - it is not one big market we need but many smaller, high value ones. And it’s not an overnight thing - it takes time to build relationships.”