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South African winemakers targeting Chinese market

Chinese visitors to the recent Vinexpo Asia Pacific in Hong Kong sample wine.

Our CEO, Hein Koegelenberg, was quoted in a recent article in the Global Post about South African wine producers targeting the burgeoning Chinese market. The article states:

Chinese drinkers consume 300 million bottles of wine a year. Nearly all of it is red wine, but the Chinese are starting to become interested in more exotic products, and white wine sales are slowly increasing.

Hein Koegelenberg, CEO of La Motte and Leopard’s Leap Wines in South Africa, thinks he has a winning idea: varietals produced specifically for the Chinese market, to match Chinese food and culture.

First, there’s the carefully considered brand name: L’Hugenot, a nod to South Africa’s wine history and the French Protestants who landed at the Cape in the mid-17th century, bringing with them France’s winemaking experience.

“We have to get the message through that South Africa has the same history of winemaking,” Koegelenberg said, admitting that having a French-sounding name is an advantage in China.

Then there are the wines themselves: a mid-range red and a white selected to match Chinese foods, and a pricier Shiraz dressed to impress in elaborate packaging, in order to tap into the Chinese gift-giving tradition.

The white is a Chenin Blanc, catering to a growing number of white wine drinkers in the coastal cities of southern and eastern China, such as Guangzhou, Xiamen and Shanghai, where seafood is popular.

The “drinking” red is a Shiraz-Pinotage, “blended for spiciness” and intended to match the richer dishes of inland northern China.

Furthermore, Koegelenberg has teamed up with a Chinese partner, admitting that he needs help in understanding the culture.

“If you want to do business in China, you have to build relationships,” he said.
“The first thing I did was to find Chinese people that can work my brand. We don’t understand the culture, we don’t understand the language.

Read the rest of the article here:

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