Ni Hao from China
I couldn’t contain my excitement when I was asked to go on my first international business trip for Caudo Vineyard. I dusted off my passport and packed my bags for a 20 day adventure to the world’s most populated country- China! There is a growing market for Australian wine in China and increasing numbers of Chinese tourists through the cellar door. My objective was to learn as much as I could to better understand their culture to ultimately create a better relationship and business with China. With very little experience or knowledge of China, I was simply told to go there with an open mind and pack my “drinking boots”.
Zac Caudo (Caudo Vineyard Director), James Wuu (Lannister Director) and I travelled more than 18,000 kilometres. Our Lannister tasting tour took us to numerous places including Guangzhou, Changchun, Xi’an, Yangling, Chengdu, Guiyang, Beijing and Shanghai. The trip was jam packed with wine tasting events, exhibitions and dinners with both new and existing clients so we could make the most of our time in China.
The Chinese are fantastic hosts. I was treated to some of the best hospitality and service I have ever experienced. They proudly advocated their traditional foods and I admire their love and passion for their hometown region and it’s traditions. Nothing was ever too hard and I felt 100% welcomed. Despite some funny translation mistakes, I made so many new friends as the conversations flowed. It was only my second day in and my “drinking boots” were wearing thin. Oh boy, do the Chinese love to drink. I quickly became familiar with the word “ganbei” which translates to ‘empty glass’. It’s used in the same sense as “cheers” or “bottoms up”.
The authentic cuisine was another fantastic experience. We enjoyed plenty of spicy food, local seafood and specialty dishes. The dinner tasting evenings were great to introduce a variety of wines and educate our customers about wine/food pairing.
A large part of our trip involved education and promotion of Australian wine and tourism. We visited the Wine College of Northwest A&F University where we were given a tour of the university, meeting the Dean, professors and some of the students.
Zac later provided a lecture to the students on Australian wine. The students responded well, asking a huge array of questions. Topics were broad from labelling, regions, Australian wine making, and laws and regulations. I was able to speak with the students one on one to discuss their ambitions and interest in wine. Of course, we got to sample a range of wines breaking down their flavours, characters, winemaking and regional influence.
Guiyang Wine Expo
The fun never stopped. We headed to Guizhou for the China International Alcoholic Beverage Expo, a 4 day event showcasing wine and spirit products across the globe. It was a solid fours days work promoting and educating thousands of people about our wine and South Australia as a popular Australian wine producing region.
Forging a link
I’ve come back home to Australia with a new perspective on China and its people. Most importantly I have gained the confidence to better understand and interact with our Chinese consumers and visitors at the Cellar Door. Caudo Vineyard’s relationship with China is only getting stronger and it’s an exciting time to be forging a link between the two countries through education, networking and business relations. It’s been the most amazing experience and I look forward to returning to China again one day. Next time, however, I may need to pack an extra pair of “drinking boots”.