Wine Industry Newsletter

‘Vino’-vation – Technology bridges the gap between WA winemakers and Japanese buyers

With international travel off the table, another solution was needed to continue engagement with WA’s international markets. Through an innovative use of technology, DPIRD has directed three online virtual masterclasses connecting Western Australian winemakers with Japanese buyers.

The initiative, a joint project directed by DPIRD with the support of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, the South West Development Commission, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA and the Western Australian Trade and Investment Office in Japan was formulated as a response to movement restrictions made in accordance with COVID-19 containment measures.

Woman sitting in front of a computer holding a bottle of wine.
I-Lyn Loo, DPIRD Primary Industries Trade Manager.

I-Lyn Loo, Manager Primary Industries Trade, hosted the pilot masterclass in June. Ms Loo said that the Japanese wine industry were intrigued by the concept of a virtual masterclass from the start and were more than happy to participate in the online gathering.

Industry provided great feedback on the concept, which the department will use to refine the process.

To this end, noteworthy organisations and experts have been involved. Mr Taku Iguro (Japan’s Best Sommelier of 2020) facilitated the latest masterclass (December 2020), which was attended by wine buyers, sommeliers and Village Cellars – a major wine distributor located in Japan.

The masterclasses have showcased a range of wines from WA’s renowned South West, Great Southern and Swan Valley regions. Estates and wines so far represented:

  • Frankland Estate – Riesling
  • Picardy Estate – Pinot Noir
  • Woodland Estate – Chardonnay
  • McHenry Hohnen Estate – Chardonnay
  • Blind Corner Organic Winery – Cabernet
  • Riverbank Estate – Chenin Blanc

Japo Dalli Cani (McHenry Hohnen Estate), a participant of the pilot event in June, said the masterclass provided an insight into a new marketing business model that could be extended to the rest of WA’s produce.

“Necessity is the mother of invention and the current state of international movement restrictions has provided an opportunity to think more creatively about how to do business in this dynamic global marketplace.”

It is anticipated the program will continue.

WA Trade Statistics

DPIRD considers Japan to be a significant market. The country hosts a sizeable wine market with growing potential – it is ranked as the ninth largest export destination by both value and volume for WA wine exporters. Further, over the last five years there has been considerable growth with a 22 per cent increase in value of wine exports to Japan, totaling $1.05 million in 2020.

For more information about how DPIRD can assist WA Agrifood and Beverage businesses visit agric.wa.gov.au/agribusiness-food-trade.