Wine to Asia (pic: Wine to Asia)

Wine to Asia (pic: Wine to Asia)

Has China's wine appetite returned? Where is the country heading in the post-pandemic market? Much of it will perhaps be answered at the upcoming Wine to Asia wine fair in Shenzhen.

As mainland China recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, the much-anticipated Wine To Asia, Vinitaly and Shenzhen Pacco Communication’s first joint international wine fair in this tumultuous year, will serve as a barometer to test whether Chinese wine market’s appetite for wine has recovered.

Being the only two international wine fairs that survived this year – the other being Prowine China in Shanghai – the inaugural Wine to Asia Shenzhen International Wine and Spirits Fair has its eyes strategically set on Shenzhen, the southern metropolis that jumpstarted China’s reform and opening up 40 years ago, and today’s centre for the Greater Bay Area, linking Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.

Originally scheduled for early November, the two-day fair will now be held on November 20-21 at the Intercontinental OCT Shenzhen Hotel with a strong trade focus to “provide a unique and exciting platform to network and establish long-term business relations with leading importers, distributors and buyers, with horeca purchasing decision makers, and with wine & spirits collectors,” according to the fair.

One of the highlights for the fair aside from its business-minded networking is its decision to shine a light on natural wine by dedicating a natural wine area called Living Wine.

In cooperation with Ziran, Living Wine will showcase more than 30 wineries from France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and China represented by top natural wine specialists including Wine Snob, Vinetrail, Gsl-Zefiro, Bruto, KC Wines and China’s biodynamic winery Silver Heights, according to the organizer.

Natural wine, once a fringe category in the wine world, is now making buzz in China. The country hosted its first natural wine festival in Shanghai last year, and its most prominent oenologist Li Hua, known as “father of modern Chinese wine”, just endorsed the wine category as an answer to sustainable and high-quality wine production, as we have reported.

Additionally, there will also be more than ten masterclasses and grand tastings, including those featuring Wines of Chile, DOCa Rioja, Italy’s premium sparkling wine Franciacorta, top Slovenian orange wine brands and Chinese wines made from increasingly popular Marselan grape.

Wines from China’s Huailai wine growing region in Hebei province will also be highlighted at the fair for buyers whose interest in Chinese wine extend beyond known regions such as Ningxia and Shandong.

Prior to the official launch in November, Vinitaly and Italian Trade Agency embarked on a China Roadshow to promote the upcoming wine fair. The pre-launch promotion apparently worked. So far over 150 exhibitors have signed up to the wine fair and over 10,000 buyers are expected to attend the two-day event.

The timing of the fair will be interesting to gauge Chinese wine market’s demand in the last quarter of the year after data from the first nine months of the year showed that wine consumption has yet to recover to pre-Covid level despite the country’s successful containment of Covid-19 spread.

Being the only wine fair in South China for the remainder of the calendar year, the fair will likely assimilate and attract buyers who were originally planned to attend HKTDC International Wine and Spirits Fair. The Hong Kong exhibition was scheduled in early November but was later cancelled and postponed to early 2021.

This puts the fair in a favorable position to assess South China if not the entire country’s market demand for 2021, as importers will begin to stock up for 2021 Chinese New Year in February.

Registration for the wine fair is now open. More information can be found here.

You can also find the masterclass schedule below:

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