We are very happy to welcome May Wu (Wu, Meijun for those who understand the Chinese way of stating a name) to the Vrede en Lust team! May, pictured above with Susan and Etienne at a wine show in Guangzhou last year, will be based in the city of Shenzhen, in Guandong province, China. We have met May a few times at wine shows in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Last year she interviewed Susan for one of the TV programs at one of the wine shows. We were fortunate to have met May and the timing was right to get her onboard as she was very passionate about our wines and brand heritage.
We have been interested in the Chinese market for wines for some time now and came to the conclusion that if we want to succeed there, we need to have our own person on the ground. It is just too difficult with the massive language barriers.
We would do a wine show, meet a lot of prospects, converse with them via a translator and then try and follow up. But most of them do not understand English and when we get Chinese emails we are at a total loss too!
May studied Hospitality and Tourism Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and has been working in the wine industry in Guandong province. She has also done articles on wine for local print media as well as participate in TV shows focussing on food and wine pairing.
May is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, which will hopefully remove our communication obstacles! She has already set up a Chinese blog for Vrede en Lust and will become active in the Chinese social media promoting Vrede en Lust wines.
We will initially focus the bulk of our efforts on Guangdong province, which is located just north of Hong Kong and one of China’s most dynamic provinces, with a population of about 105 million people. It is the richest province in China, with an annual GDP of more than R 6 trillion!
Guangdong has one of the highest per capita income levels of all China’s 22 provinces, the most billionaires in China and a relatively well established wine industry. The major city of Guangdong is Guanzhou, which is one of the 3 top cities in China along with Beijing and Shanghai.
The modern infrastructure, including high speed rail network, makes travel throughout Guangdong very fast and efficient. Located just above Hong Kong also has its benefits.
China is so big and vast that a producer of our size cannot really try and target the country. We think we will be most successful focussing primarily on Guangdong for the foreseeable future.
We are very optimistic about our long term prospects there vs some of the traditional markets: The USA is a highly regulated market with access restricted via its archaic 3-tier alcohol distribution laws. The UK is controlled by a few massive retailers that are only deal driven. In Europe one has to compete with a huge domestic wine industry that receives many billions of Euros per annum in subsidies.
It is still the early days of establishing a wine culture in China, but it will evolve and develop fast, as does all things in China! We will soon fly May over to Vrede en Lust to spend some time here, getting to know everyone and everything about the wines, the people and the place.