HONG KONG drinkers are developing a taste for one of the Golden State's best-loved exports - wine. America's share of the Hong Kong wine market has increased from 12.5 per cent in 1988 to 17.4 per cent in 1992. ''Californian wines are doing very well. People appreciate the high quality, which is consistent because the weather in California is always good,'' said Chan Sin-kong, general sales manager for importer Caldbecks. ''And the price is reasonable; a good bottle of wine sells for an average cost of just $100.'' California has been America's leading agricultural state for the past 44 years, producing 55 per cent of America's fruits, nuts and vegetables on only three per cent of the nation's farmland. The Hong Kong Marriott will feature Californian wines and desserts during a 14-day promotion until December 17. ''California today has one of the largest economies in the world . . . and a major part of this success is the high quality of its agriculture,'' said Marriott general manager Geoff Garsside. Grown primarily in the Napa Valley and Mendocino Country regions from grape seeds imported from France, the Californian wine industry is highly mechanised and producers are relatively unhampered by state controls. Hong Kong wine lovers tend to prefer white wines to red, probably because of the hot climate. ''Organic wines are becoming popular among the health-conscious. Hotel chefs are using them to accompany organic menus,'' Mr Chan said. At an average cost of $120 per bottle, the organic wines are more expensive because naturally grown grapes produce large quantities of enzymes which create a particularly full, rich flavour, according to Mr Chan. Californian wines are also becoming popular in southern China, where they have been introduced by the growing number of visiting Hong Kong businessmen and expatriates. Wine drinking in China remains expensive though, due to a duty of 150 per cent, compared to 30 per cent in Hong Kong. Hong Kong consumes four per cent of California's agricultural exports and is the single largest export market for Californian grapes, importing two million boxes a year. The local market is expected to grow further as trade with China's economic zones grows, effectively bringing millions of additional customers into the Hong Kong sales region.