Hawke’s Bay wine manufacturers see big jump in Chinese demand

China’s demand for wines from New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay region is drying up stocks.

China’s demand for wines from New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay region is drying up stocks.

The blend of cabernet merlot in particular has grown in popularity, with exports to China exceeding one million litres for the first time ever for the year to June. Of the $NZ 25 million exported to China for that period, $10 million was cabernet merlot.

“It's very much a Hawke's Bay opportunity,” said Tony Bish, chairman of Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing District, in Hawke’s Bay, told Fairfax Media.

"There's a lot of optimism that there's significant potential for medium and high-priced wines in China."

85 per cent of New Zealand’s cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines comes from Hawke’s Bay.

David Babich, general manager of Babich Wines, told Fairfax that in three years China had gone from the 20th biggest consumer of his company’s wines to being placed third, and stocks of his company's premium Hawke's Bay products had sold out for the year.

"A fire has been lit under China with regard to supply of New Zealand wine," he said.

Similarly, Australian winemakers have seen big increases in demand for their products from the Chinese market, particularly when it comes to higher-end red wines.

Last week the First Families of Wine, a group of family-owned, high-quality Australian winemakers, announced that it would focus on opportunities in the Chinese market, which is the fastest growing by volume and value for Australian wine.