Department of State Development

Chinese importer Qingdao Cheers Wines has bought a “significant” stake in a large Langhorne Creek winery – and acquired one of its brands to secure future supply.

Qingdao Cheers Wines is one of 10 importers of wines produced by the Strathalbyn based Belvidere Winery.

Earlier this month it bought a stake in business, which owns an 18,000-tonne crush and 18 million-litre storage capacity winery, as part of a strategic investment to boost supply in line with growing demand from the Chinese markets. The winery incorporates two highvolume, low cost zones and a
micro-winery focused purely on premium-wine production.

Qingdao has also purchased Belvidere Winery’s Mosaic brand – which produces about 12 different varieties, mainly reds, across three price ranges.

Belvidere sales and marketing director Paul Turnbull confirmed the deal, which was revealed to Chinese delegates during a recent investment conference
organised by the Australia China Business Council.

Mr Turnbull would not reveal the Chinese stake or the amount it paid but it was “significant”.

He said: “They have invested in our winery for a few important reasons. They have rising demand for our wines in China and they want to be able
to secure, for the long term, their supply of this wine as they invest in their own growth.”

They also wanted an Australian bricks-and-mortar winery to present to customers to help validate the origin of the wine.

“For us the investment has come at a time when the industry is extremely cash-thirsty,” Mr Turnbull said.

“In fact we are open to further investment from them and some of our other partners – and we believe that we will see that happen soon.”

Belvidere Winery was set up in 1999 as a winemaking service provider – processing grapes and making wine for other major Australian wineries, including Hardys.

In 2010, the group’s 26 shareholders decided to make and market their own wines, with a strong focus on exports.

Belvidere Winery exported close to 65,000 dozen wines, mostly reds, to China in 2013 – 25 per cent of it imported by Cheers. A similar partnership
already exists between Mc-Laren Vale’s Gemtree Vineyards and its Chinese stakeholder Shicuan Taifeng Group.

ACBC SA president Sean Keenihan, who is also chair of the South Australian China Advisory Council, said there were many other investments but “stories aren’t always told”.

Success in China was often so hard fought, there was a reluctance to speak about it openly.

SA already has trade links with the city of Qingdao, supplying barley for Tsingtao Beer and through packaging company Portavin, which bottles wines for export to China.