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California Wines’ tastings prove a hit in Japan and South Korea

California Wines’ annual ‘Alive’ trade tastings in Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul concluded last week with a 30% increase in attendance.

The event, which saw more than 1,650 wine professionals attend, saw a particular focus on the newly-established American Viticulture Area (AVA) of West Sonoma Coast.

Over 30 California vintners travelled to Tokyo, Osaka, and Seoul to connect with wine professionals through tastings and seminars

US wine exports, of which more than 95% are from California, have seen several years of explosive growth triggered by market shifts fueled by the pandemic. In 2022, export sales of US wine to Japan grew by 28.3% to reach US$109 million in total value, while export sales of US wines to Korea reached US$89.7 million.

The Seoul tasting, which saw 613 attendees, was the largest-ever wine trade tasting held in South Korea, and the Tokyo tasting logged 710 guests while, in Osaka, 335 people turned up to take part.

The Wine Institute’s vice president of international marketing, Honore Comfort, said: “Timing is everything. We remained committed to maintaining and investing in our relationships with international trade partners during some incredibly challenging years, and we were there as markets began to rebound and get back to business. Thanks to the dedication of our vintners, we will continue to leverage the exciting growth we’ve seen in Japan and Korea over the past two years.”

Ted Lemon, owner and winemaker at Littorai Wines, added: “The ‘Alive’ tastings afforded a tremendous opportunity for the West Sonoma Coast Vintners to educate influential trade and media about our AVA and region. I was deeply impressed by the calibre of the attendees and the focus that the events placed on the West Sonoma Coast, and I look forward to seeing our success in the rapidly evolving Japan and South Korea wine markets and beyond.”

California Wines has confirmed that it will continue to foster importer relationships and expand market access in these key markets with upcoming trade events in 2023, including the California Wines Spring Promotion in Japan (being held in April and May) and the California Wine Bootcamp in South Korea (scheduled for mid-May).

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