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  • Written by Kathy Lane
Now that the dust has settled on their recent trip to Hong Kong and mainland China, Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) Chairman, Bruce Tyrrell from Tyrrell’s (Est. 1858) in the Hunter Valley, has had some time to reflect on the incredible experience.
AFFW Chairman, Bruce Tyrrell, presenting in China
AFFW Chairman, Bruce Tyrrell, presenting in China


A long trip on the road, the group of family members first travelled to Vinexpo in Hong Kong (29-31 May) as part of the Wine Australia Roadshow.  As this year’s ‘Country of Honour’, Australia received the lion’s share of focus as the spotlight turned to southern climes.  And AFFW were right at the centre of the attention.


“We hosted a masterclass in Hong Kong – UNLOCKED – where we tasted and talked about some of the most iconic wines drawn from our families’ cellars,” said Bruce.  “Not only was it a sell-out, but there was standing room only at the back of the room and a queue of people out the door, wishing they could hear about and taste our families’ vinous jewels.  It was an amazing experience and the atmosphere was terrific.”


The wines on taste included some very special drops including the highly awarded 2005 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon; 1999 Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz; 2008 Henschke Hill of Grace and Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat amongst the stellar line up.  With each of the twelve families presenting some of their most awarded and recognisable wines, it made for a tasting like no other.  It most definitely resonated with the crowd!


AFFW and Wine Australia continued their promotional drive with the China Roadshow 2018; a tour that connected Australian wine exhibitors with influential Chinese importers, distributors, wholesalers and media in the four key cities of Shenyang, Wuhan, Jinan and Shanghai (4-11 June).


After the final Wine Australia tasting events in Shanghai, the group stayed on to host a special dinner in partnership with the Australian Chamber of Commerce (Auscham). Held at the exclusive Waldorf Astoria on the Bund, this premium wine dinner featured a 12-course menu matched to the families’ carefully selected wines.  Another opportunity to tell the stories behind the wines, the dinner was attended by an array of business and media guests.


Now safely home and on reflection, for Bruce Tyrrell it was in China that he perceived the biggest shift in knowledge, attitude and potential for Australian wine.  As a group, AFFW had not been in China since 2013 even though they visit the market individually.  And the power of the group message was not lost on the incredibly wine-interested demographic. 


“I was particularly impressed with the level of interest and knowledge of Australian wine amongst the Chinese trade and consumers this time around.  Traditionally an older trade market, the demographic in China has definitely become more youthful.  They are interested, informed and keen to hear all about family business.  It’s important to them that brands have provenance and as a group, we have that in spades,” Tyrrell said. 


“The other big shift was interest away from red wine to a very keen interest in Australian white wine.  That was a big surprise to me.  I couldn’t pour or talk enough about Semillon and Chardonnay, and neither could the rest of our group.  Good to see our Aussie whites taking centre stage.”


With 48 million wine drinkers currently in China and Australia positioned as the second largest importer of bottled wine into China*, Australia is in the box seat to make the most of the incredible growth and potential in our northern neighbour.


“We cannot underestimate the power of this market and the potential that exists there.  Our work over many years individually in China is coming to fruition and Australia’s First Families of Wine has been committed to the cause, as a group, for a number of years.  With  focus, the Chinese market will continue to deliver huge results.  Our location in this hemisphere works for us, too, and I’m looking forward to a big future in wine in China,” Tyrrell commented.


For more information about AFFW, head to www.affw.com.au. Or follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AFFW1, Twitter: @AFFWine and Instagram: @affwine  We Chat ID: AUSTRALIA_AFFW

Australia’s First Families of Wine: Experience is Everything

Brown Brothers, Campbells, d’Arenberg, De Bortoli Wines, Henschke, Howard Park, Jim Barry Wines, McWilliam’s Wines, Tahbilk, Taylors, Tyrrell’s Wines, Yalumba


*Selling Australian Wine in China – Market Snapshot.  June 2018, Austrade, Australian Government.


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