New California wine body targets Asia

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A new trade body for Californian wines has set itself up as an alternative to the California Wine Institute in Asia and will seek to connect small-scale producers with consumers in the region.

The California Wine Association has been formed in Hong Kong by a mixed group of native Californian and Asian wine professionals.

According to an early report on DecanterChina.com, shipments of US wine to China increased by nearly 6% in value last year versus 2012, to US$77.2m, according to California Wine Institute figures.

While the Institute remains easily the biggest trade body for California wines, promoting producers’ interests worldwide, the CWA believes it can increase the diversity of Californian wines on offer to Asia-based consumers.

‘We respect the fine work that Wine Institute has done, but their interests are naturally oriented toward producers of large volumes,’ Alexis Bell, executive director and co-founder of the CWA, told DecanterChina.com.

‘Our focus is on the best California has to offer – building the image of fine California wines in this growing market, and we are offering full-service opportunities to interested producers.’

She said the $1,500 membership price offers a series of benefits, including a Hong Kong address, translation, trademark and domain assistance, travel and concierge services, as well as access to local industrial groups and promotional events.

‘We will help wineries launch their business in Asia, by setting up all of the logistics, whether it is shipping or storing or sales and marketing,’ Bell said.

The Hong Kong-based association currently has a half-dozen staff and expects to expand the team in the near future.

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