Ongoing Promotions of Moldova Wines in China

Recently, I was invited to join a Chinese media delegation of wines to visit Moldova, the well-known East European wine producer. As a leading wine supplier of the former Soviet Union with the centrally planned economy, Moldova is the world’s No.10 wine producer and has a long history of wine production. The country’s wine-growing regions cover an area of 112,000 hectares, about the same as that of Bordeaux, France. Around 250,000 people are employed by the wine industry, the output value of which accounts for 3.2% of the country’s GDP and about 7.5% of the export volume. With a population of only 5 million, the small land-locked country boasts of solid strength and huge potential in wines. We visited chateaus and vineyards and unique large wine cellars and tasted signature wines in various wine-growing regions. I was deeply impressed by the diversity, individuality and high cost performance of Moldovan wines. Moreover, the country’s abundant and unique wine tourism resources are really competitive.

Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Moldova was once excessively dependent on the wine markets of former Soviet Republics led by Russia. Due to intensifying geo-political games, Moldova, lying between Romania and Ukraine, has been coveted by the EU and Russia. Politics and diplomacy have a huge influence on its decisive wine industry. In 2006, Russia banned imports of Moldovan wines, severely striking Moldova’s wine industry and motivating its wineries to go global. My initial impression on Moldovan wines was established by learning about the renowned Cricova Chateau (exhibitor of ProWine China 2014). At that time, no synergy was generated by a handful Moldovan wineries. Few Chinese consumers recognized the image of Moldova as a wine producer, resulting in the country’s poor market performance.
Moldova and the EU have been enjoying closer ties in recent years. On June 27, 2014, the two sides signed an Association Agreement in Brussels. On July 2, the Moldovan Parliament passed the agreement. Russia again banned imports of all Moldovan wines to put pressure on the country. The Moldovan wine industry has realized that it’s imperative to eliminate its dependence on the single market, pursue market diversification, and expand their presence in European, American, and Chinese markets.
While preserving its time-honored wine styles, Moldova is currently introducing EU or even global standards in grape growing, wine making, production, management, etc., in a bid to pave the way for international markets. The media delegation of wines gained insights in this regard. For instance, several wineries mentioned the protection of geographical indications (GIs). Some GIs protected by the EU widely used in the past, e.g. Cahor and Cognac, have been replaced by new ones.
It’s no surprise that China, one of the wine consumer markets with the biggest potential in the world, has become a key target of Moldovan wines. This year, Moldova has been stepping up efforts in promoting its wines in the Chinese market. The Moldovan Wine Guild has engaged professional PR teams familiar with the Chinese wine industry and arranged Chinese wine media to visit the country’s wine-growing regions.
It’s worth mentioning that, in late 2014, the Moldovan Wine Guild organized local wineries to participate in ProWine China, the most influential trade fair for wine and spirits on the Chinese mainland. It’s the first time for Moldovan wineries as a pavilion to participate in a wine exhibition on the Chinese mainland and showcase their features and advantages among Chinese buyers and other professionals. I have visited some of the exhibitors from Moldova, which are leading players in the country’s wine industry, e.g. CRICOVA, Chateau Vartely, Fautor, Migdal-P, and Purcari. As a highlight of ProWine China 2014, Debra Meiburg MW, a highly-reputed Master of Wine in the Asia-Pacific region, was invited to host five Master Classes (Seminars) of Moldovan wines, promoting the professional quality of Moldovan wines and image branding in the international market. Presently, market promotions are still at the initial stage without immediate effects or benefits. Nevertheless, more and more Chinese consumers are beginning to recognize Moldovan wines, which is an efficient and inevitable path to exploiting emerging markets.
Needless to say, wine associations supported by government authorities should make continuous efforts in order to expand the presence of Moldovan wines in the Chinese market, including constant and well-planned promotions through various communication channels, particularly new media featuring accurate and rapid communication, promotion and cooperation in wine education, keeping contact and interaction with professional key opinion leaders, participating in leading trade fairs of wine and spirits on the Chinese mainland, e.g. ProWine China, etc.
Looking ahead, Moldovan wineries will maintain their traditional advantages. With enduring promotional efforts, Moldovan wines will be recognized and acknowledged by both industry insiders and consumers alike, and reap substantial market benefits in the near future.
- LU Jiang, WineSchool China -