Wine sales slide in China

Austerity measures introduced by the Chinese Government have been blamed for a multimillion-dollar slump in WA wine exports, according to industry figures.

The Australian Wine and Grape Authority's annual wine export approval report revealed the total value of bottled exports from Margaret River fell more than $3 million this year, down to $21.7 million from a high of $25.8 million in June last year.

Imposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping last year, the measures were designed to curb spending habits of senior government officials on expensive alcohol and other luxuries, often given to visiting dignitaries.

Wines of WA chief executive Larry Jorgensen said WA wine was popular with China's high-end market, and the restrictions had made them change their strategy.

"It provides real focus on the market that is developing there," he said. "Gift-giving by officials is one thing, but as the middle-class continues to expand, people will look to buy more wine on their own accord."

Although conceding the figures were disappointing, he said growth in the high-end market indicated the way forward.

Dunsborough wine purveyor Redmond Sweeney said international buyers were increasingly interested in quality regional wines.

"At Snake and Herring, we're supplying wine to the UK, Shanghai and New York - so the demand is there," he said.

The West Australian

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