The popularity of New World wines is growing in Hong Kong, with imports shooting up despite a decline in value of wine imports overall.
Wines from Chile, New Zealand and South Africa saw double-digit growth in the first eight months of this year.
Of the three, South Africa saw the biggest jump, with sales up 52 per cent over the same period last year, to HK$31 million. Volume was up 47 per cent, to 754,000 litres.
Imports from Chile increased by 36 per cent to HK$127 million, while those from New Zealand rose 33per cent to HK$70 million.
During the same period, total wine imports dropped 18 per cent by value from last year to HK$5.45 billion, mainly because of a poorer performance by France. The value of its imports fell 25 per cent to HK$3.11 billion, though it kept its top spot overall.
The figures from the Trade Development Council were released a day before the opening of the Hong Kong Wine and Spirits Fair at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, featuring 950 exhibitors from 36 countries. The first two days are for trade only, but the fair will open to the public on Saturday with an admission fee of HK$200.
Ali Lai, from the exhibitor Pisquera de Chile, said people were now willing to pay more for New World wines.
Lai said this was not just because the wines were cheaper than those from traditional sources. "It goes with the guarantee that the wine will never be bad," she said.
Lai has also brought the country's national liquor, pisco, a 40 per cent alcohol brandy, and Chilean beers to Hong Kong.
Pippa Carter of Wines of South Africa attributed the increase in sales to the competitive price of the country's wines. "Our wines fit in between old and New World," she said.
The number of exhibitors in the South African booth has grown from 24 to 29 since last year, making the stand the biggest ever for the country at an Asian wine fair.
Prominent names at the fair include the Italian Allegrini Estates; Russia's oldest sparkling wine producer, Abrau-Durso; one of the oldest Bordeaux wine estates, Chateau Pape Clement; and Australia's McGuigan Wines, which was named the world's best winemaker at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London.