Interview: Leogate Estate Wines’ China Market Entry

July 18 2016

This month's featured Export Growth China Program participant is Leogate Estate Wines. Leogate Estate Wines began their China export journey with us in July 2015. Read Director of Leogate Estate Wines, Bill Widin's interview to find out more on how he prepared for his China market entry, program experience, successes, barriers below.
Picture above: Bill and Vicki Widin (centre couple) of Leogate Estate Wines receiving the James Rogers Trophy from the International Wine Challenge, London, for the Leogate Estate 2011 “The Basin” Reserve Shiraz – “Best Wine in its first year of production”.

Q: Can you please tell us about Leogate Estate Wines and what made you target China market?

Bill: Leogate Estate Wines commenced business in 2008. Our first vintage was 2009 (which was made under contract) and the first vintage made in our own winery was 2010.

The Leogate Estate Cellar Door opened in August, 2012.

Leogate Estate is a young company surrounded by older, established, wine companies. Moreover, our wine-making capacity transpired to be larger than our available local Australian market; hence our endeavours to look for an emerging market which may be able to absorb our wines which were relatively unknown. The market we identified was China.

Q: How did you prepare for China market entry?

Bill: My wife and I travelled to Hong Kong and mainland China to survey the market and, in particular, to assess the competition as regards quality and price.

As a result we enrolled in the New South Wales Business Council’s China Export programe, and were pleased to display our wines in their excellent showroom and exhibition centre in Shanghai Mart.

Q: Where did you get the contact for your recent sales to China?

Bill: One of the benefits we have enjoyed through our membership of the Export Growth China programme was to be introduced to the Australian arm of an international seafood group which desired to take advantage of their business network in China. We were able to compete on the bases of quality and price for their business and are pleased to report significant initial success in the joint business.  

Q: How did you get involved in Export Growth China program? And your experience with the program?

Bill: We heard through the local wine industry of the programme and applied to join. We can honestly report our entire satisfaction with our experience with the programme and the staff involved.

Q: Have you been to China before and the Chamber Shanghai showroom?

Bill: My wife and I, as advised above, have visited China previously, but very much appreciated our reception and hospitality when we visited the Export Growth China Shanghai showroom in July, 2015.

Q: What is your experience of selling wine in China market?

Bill: The China market is very competitive and awash with the wines of many countries. Also the price/quality equation is presently over represented by low priced wines in a consumer society which has only recently been introduced to a spectrum of qualities.
Q: Any pitfalls, success factors on doing business with China?

Bill: My observations lead me to advise that Australian wine companies need to exercise extreme patience to break into the China market. Nevertheless you must be represented, and I know no better forum for representation than the Export Growth China programme and the showroom in Shanghai.
Q: Is there any barrier to deal with Chinese businesses? What is the most difficult thing from your experience?

Bill: Australia continues to suffer from the tyranny of distance, and this is compounded with language and cultural differences in China. There is no such thing as doing one’s own thing in China; hence the inherent benefit of the Export Growth China programme and Shanghai showroom.

Picture above: Mark Woods, senior winemaker, Leogate Estate