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Oregon wines make long trip to Asia

International trade — Representatives from local wineries take part in an exploration trip to test the South Korea and China markets


Oregon wine may be expanding to South Korea and China after 20 local wineries returned from a four-day tasting in South Korea and China.

The first tasting took place in Seoul Nov. 11. Dewey Weddington, director of marketing and education for the Oregon Wine Board, said although it is too soon to measure success in wine sales, based on attendance and feedback, the event went well.

“The wine trade in Seoul is fairly sophisticated and showed keen interest in learning, exploring and connecting with Oregon wineries,” Weddington said. “Several wineries have been contacted by interested importers but whether or not they do business together may take months or more to decide. “

He said the seminar and tastings in Shanghai, China, spanning Nov. 12-15, were also successful.

“It was our first event held in China and we were not sure what to expect, but attendance was very good and interest again fairly keen,” he said. “China is still a young market that is evolving and changing very quickly as people learn and shape an industry that did not exist in years past. There were a lot of our wineries (present) to learn firsthand while they met importers, media and key influencers.”

The trip was funded through the Market Access Program Grant that the OWB shares with the Washington State Wine Commission. Together they are known as the Northwest Wine Coalition.

“These funds are critical to our ability to help Oregon wineries explore and pursue new markets for sales growth while extending awareness and desire for Oregon wine,” Weddington said.

The trip, he said, was in part to improve the understanding of how to do business in each country.

“Decisions to focus this year on both markets came from increased interest from our wineries to do business in Korea and China and growing interest from each country for Oregon wine. Steady requests from each country, along with some aggressive purchases from Korea this past year, peaked interest for exploration,” he said. “Whether or not we return next year or at all will depend on success yet to be realized and budget availability. Looking ahead, we can expect some level of activity, but what form it takes is still in question.”

Catherine Douglas, Adelsheim Winery marketing director, also attended the trip. She said although Adelsheim already has a market established in China, it was the winery’s first time in Seoul.

“We already have importers in China, so we were able to see them while there,” Douglas said. “But it was really exciting to see our wines in wine shops in China. It’s so exciting to see something we produce in Newberg on shelves in Shanghai where there’s 22 million people.”

Weddington said wineries selected to participate on their own. From this area, Omero Cellars, Chehalem Wines, Ponzi Vineyards, NW Wine Company, Sokol Blosser Winery and Stoller Family Estate joined Adelsheim on the tour.

“An announcement is made to the broad email list we have, allowing any Oregon winery to participate on a first come, first served basis. We are aware of some wineries who are frequently seeking opportunities so if they don’t reply after the mass email goes out we reach out to them directly,” he said. “We also have a short list of wineries who inquire about export opportunities so we try to follow up with each of them as well.”

He said, generally, there is a mix of wineries on each tour, some who return to specific countries or events.

“For this Asia trip we had about half of the wineries that were in Europe with us last year and half that have not participated before. We are already planning the 2014 Europe trip and it looks to have even more new participants,” Weddington said. “The interest in export markets is growing as wineries seek new, long term, sales channels. Oregon is a world leader in premium wine and while we don’t all expect it, the world is increasingly desirous of Oregon wine to enjoy at home.”

But he said this wouldn’t be possible without how well the Oregon wine community travels together and represents each other.

“Those who don’t participate in export events should be proud of their friends and neighbors who do, they represent us all exceptionally well and carry our message, our identity around the globe,” he said. “Oregon has a very good name in Asia, Europe and Canada, not only because of the quality of our wines but because of our people.”




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