Hawkes Bay winery Ngatarawa Wines is pushing into China with the opening of a showroom this Saturday.

Managing director Alwyn Corban, whose great-grandfather established Corbans Wines, said the winery had exported to China for the past two years.

"The Chinese are turning to wine very rapidly at the moment," Corban said.

"Hawkes Bay is strong in red wines and if you look at the Chinese market it's 80 per cent red and 20 per cent white wine."

Chinese consumers believed in the health benefits of red wine and liked the taste, which was generally a bit less acidic than white wine, he said.

Different parts of China have a preference for different wines, with pockets that preferred white wine.

Corban has made about six trips during the past 18 months to China, which accounted for about 10 per cent of the winery's business, and the company was opening an office and showroom in Guangzhou.

"I think there's great potential for the wine industry and think there's great potential for the style of wine we make in Hawkes Bay."

According to New Zealand Winegrowers annual report, China was the sixth largest export market for the year ended June 30 at $17.2 million, with 1.4 million litres exported.

The price per litre of exports to China was $12.04, compared with a total for all markets of $7.33 a litre.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said China was a large country, increasingly wealthy and people were drinking more wine.

"It's very difficult to say 'I'm going to go after China'," Gregan said.

"So you need to be much more specific than that from a geographical perspective ... the particular angle you're going to take in the market and you've got to find the right Chinese partners."

The free-trade agreement signed in 2008 would help the wine industry, said Gregan, who visited China in May.

"That was one of the reasons that we were up there [to] see how we could take advantage of the opportunities created by the [agreement] because we're going to be tariff free post 2012."

Corban said it was important to have a presence in China.

"First of all you've got to make contact with the people, then you have to establish credibility with them and then you have to build the relationship," Corban said.

"To do all of those things it's important to have a presence over there."

The office and showroom would be used by clients such as distributors, retailers and restaurants.

"I think it actually sends a positive message to people that we've made a commitment to China."