THE Granite Belt’s growing international reputation as an elite wine destination has been further enhanced following a visit by a Japanese wine industry delegation.
The nearly week-long tour encompassed visits to Sirromet’s Seven Scenes, St Judes and Night Sky Vineyards, along with Sirromet’s flagship winery at Mount Cotton.
The Granite Belt tour also included visits to local winemakers Ballandean Estate,Golden Grove, Symphony Hill and Tobin Wines, highlighting the range of quality wines currently being produced in the premier Queensland wine region.
The seven-member Japanese delegation was accompanied by Winetree’s Miyako Akiyama and included sommeliers Kenichi Tsuji of Kanazawa’s famous wine bar Chateau Chinnon, Tsuyoshi Hanashima of Ishikawa Prefecture’s luxury Kagaya ryokan hotel and Tetsuya Ebisawa of Tokyo restaurant Manuel, along with leading wine writer Rika Ogura and Minoru Numata, an adviser to the Japan Sommelier Association and an A+ specialist educator for Wine Australia.
Global Sky managing director Ko Nagata said the visit was an important step in boosting Japanese interest in Queensland wine, capitalising on the recent lowering of trade barriers under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA).
“Winetree is determined to assist the growth of premium Australian wines in Japan, Asia’s second-largest wine market, in partnership with leading wine makers such as Sirromet,” Mr Nagata said.
“With a sophisticated and expanding customer base, Japan offers an enormous opportunity for Australian wine, which thanks to JAEPA can now compete on a level playing field with its new world rivals.”
Efforts to promote Australian wines have been further boosted by its opening earlier this year of two Australia-themed restaurants and bars in Tokyo, Terra Australis and Terra Azabu-juban located in the Japanese capital’s upmarket districts of Sendagaya and Azabu-juban, respectively. Winetree has also supported various promotions in Japan by Austrade, Tourism Australia, Trade and Investment Queensland and Wine Australia, helped by Japanese celebrities including the legendary ‘Iron Chef French’ Hiroyuki Sakai.
Australia’s wine exports to Japan have shown significant growth since last year’s introduction of JAEPA, which eliminated Japan’s previous tariff on Australian bulk wine shipments and is phasing out tariffs on bottled and sparkling wine. Australia’s wine exports to Japan increased by 4 per cent to total $45 million in the year to June 2016, with a 24pc rise in premium wine sales to Australia’s ninth-largest wine market by volume, according to Wine Australia.
Sirromet’s director of sales and marketing, Rod Hill, said his company’s focus was on developing premium wines and was continuously looking for ways to push the boundaries to remain industry leaders.
“We are proud to be part of the growth of the Granite Belt, and by inviting international visitors to our region we are helping the world wake up to the quality of Queensland wine.”
Located 1000m above sea level, the Granite Belt is the highest wine region in Australia and provides the perfect cool climate terroir for producing premium wines. Currently offering more than 55 vineyards and 40 boutique cellar doors, coupled with 530 hectares of vineyard plantings, the region’s varieties include chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, sauvignon blanc, verdelho and pinot gris.