How to export wine to China

Our guide on how to export Australian wine to China.

Australian wine exports to China continued growing in 2018 to a total value of $2.8 billion. So, how do you actually go about exporting Australian wine to China?

Over the years, we've worked with customers experienced in both wine and international trade, but have also enjoyed supporting those getting into wine exports for the first time. Often, these customers have an existing network they can tap into in China (or elsewhere). When asked if they can supply Australian wine, we can help them add a new offering to their portfolio whilst leveraging their existing network, without needing to worry about sourcing, production, logistics or export paperwork.

If you find yourself in this position you may be wondering what exactly is involved to export Australian wine to China and the aim of this post is to provide a brief overview of the process.

Selecting your wine

Wine can be a very subjective area and without extensive experience, it can be daunting to select the right wine and ensure quality. The good news is that in Australia there is an excellent winemaking standard across the board ranging from entry level wines right through to the most premium options.

During our process, our first step is to provide samples to our customer to ensure that they love the wine they will be selling. Of course, we're there to provide guidance, tasting notes and recommendations based on their needs and our experience.

To date, our experience to China has been red, red, red - and then some more red. Whites have started to gain some interest but for anyone starting out, Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon is a good starting point.

Our wines are generally made to be fruit forward, easy drinking and approachable. This has had good success in China, particularly given a lot of consumers are getting into wine drinking for the first time. We've found that in Beijing and northern areas of China, the consumer preference is toward higher alcohol wines (14.5%), whereas in more southern areas such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, a slightly lower alcohol and more fruit driven approach is best.

Private label vs. existing brand

At Harland Wine Company we mainly specialise in helping our clients create their own private label, which we apply for them at the time of bottling. Alternatively, we (and other wineries) have existing brands that may be available for export.

We have found the main advantage to private label for our clients is that they gain exclusivity of their brand in the market, meaning all the effort put into marketing materials, distribution and sales is building their own intellectual property for the long term.

If you do decide to create your own wine label, it must comply with the Wine Australia labelling guidelines which can be found here. We help our clients ensure compliance and all we require is the finalised artwork files - we take care of the rest.


There are a wide range of packaging options available but our advice is to keep it simple, at least to start. For China specifically, the preference is still firmly cork over screwcap. However, screwcap is picking up some interest thanks to large Australian wine companies selling well known brands under this closure in China regardless. Technically, we can offer a wide range of different bottles, closures, capsules, cartons and packing materials and this will depend on the individual preference and needs of the client.


Congratulations! Your wine is about to be bottled. Labels have been printed, packaging specifications confirmed and wine scheduled for delivery, as we bottle to order. The wine will be bottled under your label, then packaged, containerised and delivered to port ready for shipment.

Importantly, pre-bottling, during and post-bottling, a detailed wine analysis is completed by our NATA accredited lab to ensure the highest quality at all times.

Export Documentation

There are a number of key documents that must be provided to ensure a smooth import process through Chinese customs. We take care of this for our clients. The most common documents provided are:

1. Certificate of Origin
2. Certificate of Free Sale - China Health Certificate
3. Certificate of Wine Analysis
4. Commercial Invoice
5. Packing List
6. Certificate of Bottling Date
7. Bill of Lading

Wine Export Licence

Do you require your own wine export licence? It depends. For initial shipments, we often find it more straightforward to process the shipment under our existing Wine Export Licence for our clients. Any shipment of grape product exceeding 100 litres must be through a licensed exporter.

That said, some of our clients have decided to get their own licence via Wine Australia and more information can be found about the process on that here.

Ready to sell

Once your wine arrives in China and clears customs, you are ready to sell. We recommend working with an experienced import agent in China. Our aim at Harland Wine Company is to support our clients and build long term relationships. We want you to succeed in China (or your market of choice) because it's a win-win for both of us. Whether it's visiting on the ground in China or hosting in Australia, we try to do everything we can to help our clients succeed.

So there is a brief overview of the process required to export Australian wine to China. At Harland Wine Company, we take care of everything above for you. This means once you select your wine and label option, we handle the rest - allowing you to focus on selling the wine in your market.

If you are interested in exporting Australian wine, or have any questions at all, please feel free to explore how we can help in further detail here.

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