Chinese drinkers drive global demand for McLaren Vale wine

Chinese drinkers drive global demand for McLaren Vale wine article image

Skyrocketing demand from China has helped bottled wine exports from South Australia’s McLaren Vale break through the $100 million barrier for the first time.

Wine Australia’s latest export report shows McLaren Vale exported AUD$104.2 million of wine in 2018, a 20 per cent increase on 2017.

Sales of McLaren Vale wine to China ($47.6 million) increased by 64 per cent for the year and were the driving force behind the growth while sales to Canada ($13.3 million), the United States ($12.5 million), the United Kingdom ($7.75 million) and New Zealand ($2.95) rounded out the top five overseas destinations for McLaren Vale wine.

The revenue growth was a combination of a 14 per cent increase in export volume to 9.4 million litres and a 6 per cent rise in average price per litre to $11.04 – almost double the national average for bottled wine of $6.20 per litre.

McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association General Manager Jennifer Lynch said the region’s exports had grown from $64 million in 2015 to break $100 million for the first time.

“To be a part of our region’s near $40 million growth in three years is rewarding,” she said.

“The strong growth in higher price segments, particularly in the China market, reaffirms MVGWTA’s strategic commitment and focus to activating an international consumer marketing campaign in the China market in late 2019.”

International headlines

Nationally, overseas demand for Australian wine grew by 10 per cent to a value of $2.82 billion in 2018. Bottled wine shipments grew by 7 per cent to a value of $2.24 billion.

Best known for bold Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignons, McLaren Vale is just 40km south of Adelaide and is home to leading brands such as Hardys Winesd’Arenberg and Wirra Wirra.

d’Arenberg made international headlines in December 2017 when it opened its $15 million Cube cellar door experience, which has become a major tourist attraction in McLaren Vale.

d’Arenberg Regional Export Manager Swenson Su said McLaren Vale was 46 per cent above the national average growth rate, thanks largely to substantial growth in sales to China.

Strong and continued demand

“The region is blessed with some of the most dynamic exporters in Australia and China has proven to be an excellent market for d’Arenberg – our Chinese customers love the d’Arenberg Dead Arm (Shiraz) in particular,” he said.

“We are seeing strong and continued demand from this market and we are committed to continued investment, building the brand name and the region’s prominence.”

Australia is the fifth largest exporter of wine in the world and exports approximately 60 per cent of its total production.  Australia currently has over 2000 wine exporters sending tens of thousands of different wines to 126 destinations worldwide.

South Australia is responsible for about 50 per cent of national wine production.

Growth in almost all price segments

The state’s two premier regions of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale led the way with region-specific labelled exports nationally followed by fellow South Australian regions Coonawarra and Clare Valley.


Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said increased global demand for Australian wine translated into growth in almost all price segments.

“These figures demonstrate strong international demand and they highlight how Australian wine exporters have worked diligently to develop and maintain international markets,” he said 

Andrew Spence is a senior writer for The Lead, South Australia

The d'Arenberg Cube, the brainchild of winemaker Chester Osborn, is a major tourism drawcard in McLaren Vale


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