Bay wines win seal of approval

By Roger Moroney

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Hawke's Bay Winegrowers' contractor to China, Fongyee Walker, and winegrowers executive officer James Medina enjoyed the autumn freshness of Mission Estate's vines yesterday. Photo/Paul Taylor
Hawke's Bay Winegrowers' contractor to China, Fongyee Walker, and winegrowers executive officer James Medina enjoyed the autumn freshness of Mission Estate's vines yesterday. Photo/Paul Taylor

Fongyee Walker, one of the most respected wine educators in China, was pleased to set foot on Hawke's Bay soil on Tuesday after the long flight from Beijing. Her first outing during a packed five-day schedule was a helicopter ride over the Bay's unique and increasingly lauded vineyards to see where what she called "real quality" wines emerged from.

Ms Walker was appointed the Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Association's contractor to China earlier this year in the wake of the association picking up valuable funding from the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) to promote the region's wine industry.

With China a strong new player in the export market the decision was made to take Ms Walker on to promote the Bay's best.

She founded, and manages, Beijing-based Dragon Phoenix Consulting with her husband Edward Ragg.

"Hawke's Bay has a very good reputation for producing quality wines," she said.

"And most people you give a glass of New Zealand wine to like it - because it is reliable."

She said the Bay had a stunning diversity of wines and the near perfect 2013 and 2014 vintages would further find favour in a Chinese market seeking top class wines.

While China had been hailed as the great new export market it had to be kept in perspective, she said.

"The Chinese market is so big you don't look at the figures."

For some varieties the market had actually shrunk - some up to 20 per cent.

"But what is interesting is that we are seeing a consolidation of the market - smaller but with buyers who enjoy wine."

Those buyers sought quality over quantity and Hawke's Bay was well placed to deliver that.

While in the Bay she will visit the 17 wineries participating in the China Marketing programme as well as do a presentation as part of the EIT's winemaking and viticulture programme.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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