Japan set to enjoy good Aussie drop
Wine tariff cut set to increase export trade
OPPORTUNITIES have opened up for local wineries in North East Victoria to enter into the lucrative Japanese wine market after a partnership agreement was signed between Australia and Japan.
The Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) has now been signed by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The wine market is only just developing in Japan and with the phase out of tariffs for Australian wine over the next seven years it is expected that the Japanese will soon be able to get more of a taste of what Australia has to offer.
The agreement is expected to reopen doors by providing valuable preferential access for Australia’s exports with the elimination of the 15 per cent import tariff which now includes bottled, sparkling and bulk wine.
Winemakers’ Federation of Australia Strategy & International Affairs general manager Tony Battaglene said the agreement is about developing export opportunities and giving wine a “step up” in the evolving Japanese market.
“Currently our sixth largest market by value and volume, wine consumption there is growing rapidly as the younger generation moves away from traditional products to wines.
“We are expecting to see strong growth in sparkling and still grape wines, with targeted sales of middle-to-premium Australian wine brands.
“Just look at our major competitors such as Chile, which enjoyed significant increases in market share in Japan after completion of its Free Trade Agreement in 2007.
“Australia now has the opportunity to follow suit,” Mr Battaglene said.
He added that the agreement builds on the positives from the Australia-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the industry looks forward to ongoing discussions to open up further trade possibilities in the future including China.
One of Australia’s leading family-owned wine companies, Brown Brothers has been exporting to Japan for close to 30 years and was one of the first Australian companies to do so.
Brown Brothers chief executive officer Roland Wahlquist said that the lift in tariffs will help Australian wineries increase the percentage of wine they export to Japan – a country that has mainly consumed traditional styles of red wine.
“It has been slow going setting up a partnership because Japan does not have a wine culture.
“We are still quite a small player in Japan with only about four per cent of wine sold in Japan is from Australia.
“Chile which has had a free trade agreement with Japan for quite a while has about 14 per cent of the market, so we are hoping, in time, Australia will see a lot more selling of wine not only into Japan, but other Asian countries,” Mr Wahlquist said.
Brown Brothers is quite well known in many of the Asian countries, with 15 per cent of its market share exported to Singapore, China, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia.
All Saints Estate chief executive Eliza Brown said that although All Saints is yet to find a suitable distributor in Japan, it is a very exciting opportunity for those in the wine industry interested in creating partnerships within the Japanese market.
“The agreement will help the whole of the wine industry by opening up new export markets.
“The biggest hurdle is to find appropriate partners and products that are suitable to go into that market.
“Japan is quite a sophisticated market for wine,” Ms Brown said.
“They really understand flavors and tastes, so you really have to find a partner that is appropriate for your product.
“You really need to find someone with common ground, but Japan is definitely on our hit list,” she said.
All Saints Estate currently exports to China and has been doing so successfully for the past 12 months.
Wines from the North East region of Victoria and southern New South Wales are quickly gaining accolades around the world, with many Rutherglen wineries having recently taking home awards from the prestigious International Wine Challenge (IWC) held in London.
The IWC, now in its 31st year, is known as the world’s finest and most meticulously judged wine competition which assesses every wine blend and judges each for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage.
Throughout the rigorous judging processes, each medal winning wine is tasted on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges and awards include medals (Trophy, Gold silver, Bronze) and commended and Great Value awards.
This year, trophies and medals were won by many Rutherglen wineries, mainly for their fortified varieties, including wines from Morris Wines, Stanton & Killeen Wines, All Saints Estate and Campbells Wines.
“We have won quite a few medals over the past three years which means a lot, particularly to our London distributor,” Ms Brown said.
“The IWC is highly regarded internationally and the fact that many of these awards are coming from the same region makes more of a punchy statement.
“We are a relatively tiny region getting quite a lot of recognition.
“We all work so hard and the wines we are submitting are good so it is great to win and we always hope to win,” she said.
These award - winning winemakers are all part of the Winemakers of Rutherglen membership-based association that formed in 1992.
There are now 20 wineries involved with the association’s prime focus being the promotion of the wineries and their products through co-operative marketing.
The Winemakers have developed a number of events within the region to promote tourism and wine sales.
These include the Tastes of Rutherglen and Rutherglen Winery Walkabout.