Big plans for Australia as 'Country of Honour' at Vinexpo 2018 Posted by: Alana House May 03, 2018 Australia’s largest-ever showcase of 140 wine brands representing over 35 regions is headlining Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 later this month. Asia’s premier wine and spirits trade fair has given Australia pride of place as ‘Country of Honour’ on the 20th anniversary of Vinexpo’s Hong Kong edition, from 29–31 May at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. With a five-fold increase in floor space for Australian wine compared to Vinexpo Hong Kong 2016, this year’s record presence is being complemented with a series of 26 master classes conducted by some of the top experts in Australian wine. Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston said: "There’s a real excitement and momentum building for this year’s Vinexpo Hong Kong. "With the support of the $50m Package, Wine Australia is working hard to ensure Australia’s presence as the Country of Honour is big, bold and full of impact, so that the Chinese demand for Australian wine continues to grow." Australia’s special Country of Honour status reflects Asian consumers’ growing appetite for Australian wines said Vinexpo CEO Guillaume Deglise. Australia’s huge contingent of exhibiting winemakers includes many first-time exhibitors and accords with a surge in exports to the region – and most notably China, the world’s fastest-growing wine market. Benefiting from a recent free trade agreement cutting wine tariffs, Australian wine exports to China surged 63% in 2017 to $848 million – more than the total sales to the United States and United Kingdom combined.The boom has catapulted Australia up the rankings to second largest importer of wine into China after France. "China, including Hong Kong and Macau, is our number one and fastest growing export market," said David Lucas, newly-appointed Regional General Manager, China, at Wine Australia. Lucas said the prestige of being Country of Honour at Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 was "a brilliant opportunity to shine the light on the diversity and premium quality of Australian wine and strengthen our position in the market". To celebrate its prestigious status, Wine Australia is presenting a packed program of talks and exclusive tastings showcasing the talent of Australian winemakers during the three-day event. A keynote conference on ‘Australian Wine Exports’ analyses the key to Australia’s success in Asia, and the outlook for the next few years, with wine tastings and talks at the Vinexpo Academy exploring specific varieties and contemporary winemaking. Themed ‘UNLOCKED', the twelve families of Australia’s First Families of Wine will be unlocking their cellars to share aged family jewels – the first time that UNLOCKED has been presented outside of Australia. "Guests will get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most recognised names to experience their most respected and revered wines and hear the stories of success behind these iconic wines that have created the benchmark for Australian quality," said Lucas. Regions in focus include Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale and Yarra Valley. On Vinexpo’s Grape Variety Day, attendees will explore Australian Grenache and Pinot Noir, emerging varieties and a ‘coast to coast’ tour of Cabernet Sauvignon winemaking. The Blend, Vinexpo’s official party, is also featuring 100% Australian wines. Wine Australia continues its promotional drive following Vinexpo Hong Kong with the China Roadshow 2018 that will visit Shenyang, Wuhan, Jinan and Shanghai from 4–11 June 2018.