A flagship Australian wine online store supported by Wine Australia has launched on Alibaba Group’s business to consumer platform,Tmall.com, providing a further avenue for Chinese consumers to purchase Australian wines.

The online store, constructed and operated by Vinehoo.com, one of China’s leading online wine retailers, will initially stock 10 brands from 8 wine regions, including Brokenwood, Coriole, John Duval, Pikes and Voyager Estate. Vinehoo.com will support the venture, facilitating fulfilment of all orders on the Australian wine flagship store on Tmall. It will also provide a platform to build the profile of Australian wines and regions amongst Chinese consumers. A further 20 brands are to be listed.

A key driver for the opening of the Australian store is the launch of the inaugural Tmall 9.9 Global Wine and Spirits Festival, an online Alibaba Group event held on 9 September 2016 to celebrate the increasing popularity of imported wines and spirits among Chinese consumers, especially the younger generation. Over 100,000 types of international, high-quality wines and spirits from more than 50 countries will be participating to create more opportunities for brands to directly market and engage with Chinese consumers.

Andreas Clark, CEO of Wine Australia said, ‘The opening of the store is a landmark moment that builds on a year of strong growth for Australian wine in the Chinese export market. It opens up another commercial opportunity for Australian wineries to tap in to China’s growing appreciation for our fine wines.’

Chinese mainland is now Australia’s second most valuable export market, up 50 per cent to $419 million.

Mr Clark attributes some of this growth to China’s expanding middle class and the positive impact of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement which came in to force in late 2015.

‘The food and wine culture in China continues to evolve, and there is increased demand from Chinese consumers for premium quality products online. Our support of Tmall’s flagship Australian wine store helps us capitalise on this growing interest in Australian wine and gives us the opportunity to further reinforce the message with consumers that wines of Australian provenance are of the highest quality.’

Overall, Australian wine exports have grown to $2.1 billion per year. The global trend of increased demand for Australia’s finest wines was reflected on the Chinese mainland, with exports priced A$10 or more per litre increasing by 71 per cent to $169 million.

Commenting on the store opening, Maggie Zhou, Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand for Alibaba said, ‘The partnership between Tmall and Wine Australia will allow local winemakers to access the 434 million active consumers on our China retail marketplaces. As the domestic wine sector in China is still developing and Australian wines are considered world-class and come at varied price points, the opportunity to sell to China’s burgeoning middle class is significant.’

‘Beyond established, well-recognised Australian wine brands, there is also strong potential for smaller producers to gain traction internationally. With the opening of Alibaba’s Australian office in late 2016, our local team will be helping winemakers of all sizes effectively market their products, navigate distribution channels and align to overseas preferences,’ Ms Zhou said.

According to the “Global Wines and Spirits Consumption Report” released jointly by Tmall and CBNData, 47 percent of wine consumers in China have purchased imported red wines online.

From 2013 to 2015, Alibaba’s Tmall platform saw a 5 times increase in the number of active buyers in the wines and spirits category, reaching more than 10 million consumers. The report also showed increasing popularity of imported wines and spirits among the twentysomething age group, as well as in non-tier one cities.