Family-owned businesses carry a lot of weight in South Korea; on my recent trip to Asia I found out that both reporters and consumers were both happy and intrigued that my siblings and I are carrying on our father’s legacy.
While I was traveling I had the good fortune to meet and talk with several different lifestyle publications, including Vogue South Korea, Cosmopolitan South Korea and Elle South Korea. During the interviews I was asked about our wines, the family business and a few personal questions.
But I also asked my own questions and learned quite a bit about the South Korean market. Similar to the US, the millennial generation is becoming more interested in wine, and lifestyle publications are reaching out to an audience that is eager to learn. I hope that by speaking to these magazines I might play some small part in helping young women in South Korea learn about wine.
Like China, South Korea is an up and coming wine market that drinks a lot of imports. In the last decade, wine consumption in South Korea has grown by more than 175%, while total wine imports from January-June 2011 totaled $60.2 million, a 13% increase from last year. South Korea is a sophisticated market, making it a great opportunity for California wineries to jump into.
How is it sophisticated?
Unlike other emerging wine markets, South Korea already has a well-established distribution system to support its growing demand for wine. On October 12th, the US Congress passed a new free trade agreement that will be especially beneficial to California’s wine industry.
The free trade agreement calls for immediate removal of the 15% Korean tariff imposed on California wines. The South Korean excise, value added and other taxes will also be removed, making California wines more affordable to South Korean consumers.
Countries like Chile and the European Union already have free trade agreements with South Korea. The free trade agreement between the US and South Korea will level the playing field in this country, especially with regard to wine.
I look forward to visiting South Korea again and can’t wait to see how its awareness and knowledge of California wines grows.