As it turns out, that nice glass of Washington state cabernet sauvignon on your table might also be on the table of a consumer in mainland China or Hong Kong.
U.S wines -- especially those from Oregon and Washington -- are increasingly popular in Hong Kong and neighboring mainland China. And with any luck, they'll gain even more traction thanks to special meetings like the one held earlier this week at AWB.
Joining AWB President Don Brunell for lunch Tuesday were Hong Kong Commisioner Donald C K Tong, along with Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office Director Subrina Chow (L), Deputy Director Wendy Au and Barnard Griffin Winery Co-Owner Deborah Barnard.
U.S. wine, particularly Oregon and Washington wine products, are highly regarded in Hong Kong and China. Consider that in 2008, Hong Kong imported just $9 million worth of U.S. wine, but in 2011, that figure jumped to $75 million.The market dipped slightly last year -- just $67 million -- but Tong says this was a temporary fluctuation.
With about 7 million people, many of whom thirst for quality wines, Hong Kong represents an exciting new market for the state's wine community. The U.S. is currently the third largest wine exporter to Hong Kong. Red wines account for 96 percent of all wine sales in the one of the world's leading financial centers, according to Tong, and 81 percent of all wines sold in Hong Kong stay in Hong Kong. The rest find their way to mainland China.
Wines are primarily purchased by Hong Kong consumers through supermarkets, specialty stores and restaurants. And since Hong Kong is also known for its multicourse meals, Tong said, that's "good news for the wine business."
Tong noted two key advantages for Washington wineries exporting into Hong Kong. First, a 2010 wine memorandum of understanding with Washington and Oregon encourages wine-related trading, tourism, investment and education between the Special Administrative Region of China and the two U.S. states. Hong Kong's
Hong Kong also has an agreement with Chinese customs that ensures that products shipped into Hong Kong bound for mainland China are distributed within one to seven working days. Hong Kong has a specific memorandum of understanding with China on wine, giving the country a free trade pact with the mainland.
"We would like to see more Washington wine in Hong Kong," said Tong, a sentiment many AWB member wineries, like Barnard Griffin, would gladly cheer.