In June of 2014, I was invited to a fabulous wine and culinary tour in Bordeaux, France to celebrate the French “Art de Vivre” with my fellow Global Women Summit delegates. The trip’s highlights included wine-tasting in some of France’s most prestigious wine-producing regions: Medoc and Saint Emilion.
Wine has always been an essential part of the French tradition, both culturally and economically, but the growth of the world’s middle class has made it a global necessity. Worldwide wine consumption is expected to grow $180 billion by 2016, with a large part of the demand coming from China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. In fact, international trade-in wine has increased by almost 200% from 1961 to 2005, becoming a popular export product in the world markets.
China is Bordeaux’s largest market and takes around one in five of the bottles produced in the renowned area, where up to 55,000 jobs depend on the sector. Ubifrance’s China-based sector manager told her audience during an address to the Wine Conference “Chinese importers want to listen to a story: they are looking for direct authenticity, for direct contact.”
In the last few years, many well-known French wine companies have opened their wineries in Central China to produce sparkling wine. Bordeaux International Wine Institute is offering classes on business management in the oenological arts to wine enthusiast, vintners and vineyard owners coming from all over the world including Turkey, China and India. In Asia, the middle class equates wine with sophistication and “the good life,” and wine conveys history, heritage and cultivation.
Globalization has made wine a popular drink, particularly among the world’s younger generation who are joining wine clubs, taking wine courses and embracing wine tourism. A strong wine knowledge and opinion is growing ever more fashionable.
In the global wine industry there are two broad categories for the classification of wine producing countries: New World Producers and Old World Producers. The New World Producers comprise of the USA, Australia, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. The largest of the Old World Producers are France and Italy. And now there are the new players in the industry, such as China, which has been developing its own plantings and has expanded by 20 percent over four years, fully expected to be top producers of wine within 10 to 15 years. This growth in Global Wine consumption is accelerated by the shift to a Mediterranean-style diet, the rise in the awareness of the health benefits of wine, and an increase in use during recreational activities and for general entertainment.
Some key trends in the wine industry are: Premiumization and Craft. This started with craft beer and has become popular among beer consumers and continued into craft spirits and more boutique artisan wines. The millennials who are coming into the age of alcohol consumption can be the best target market for these types of beer.
The U.S. industry created an initiative in 1998 called “WineVision” based on the opportunities presented by the global wine market to the U.S. vintners who are pouring their heart into the craft to be more competitive, both domestically and internationally.
WineVision focuses on three fundamental principles: 1) become the leader in sustainable practices and keep U.S. producers environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable, 2) make wine an integral part of the American culture, and 3) position U.S. wine as a high- quality, high-value product.
Expanding WineVision to provide educational and training workshops to help equip U.S. wineries with the business and export tools and skills they need to compete in the global marketplace would be a good strategy. This could help promote the valuable and sought-after California image in the developing world and allow U.S. wine producers tap into global consumers who want more of the good life.