Marris founded the Wither Hills winery which he sold to Lion Nathan and now owns the Marisco vineyard near Blenheim.
The company produces wines under The Ned and King’s Series labels and about 75% is currently exported, mainly to Australia, the UK, US and Canada. However, the size of the Chinese market means it could eventually eclipse the rest.
Marris said he had been aware of China’s potential for several years but didn’t have the confidence to tackle it until he joined several other companies on a trade development trip last June.
Marris said Chinese consumers mainly prefer red wine but buying habits are changing. Chinese housewives are doing more of their shopping at supermarkets where wine is becoming available, and are starting to have more influence on demand. This has led to increasing sales of white wines, particularly styles which are fruitier and slightly sweet.
Marris said the trip led to continuing discussions with Tianjin Dynasty International Wine, China’s largest premium winemaker and distributor.
A distribution deal was concluded last week, and Marris hopes to ship the first wines to China in August. He would then base several staff there to work alongside Tianjin’s people.
The company will have dual-language labels for its wine and expects to take about two years of brand building to reach a significant volume.
–Source: Sunday Star Times