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Family Winemakers and Stonebridge Research Awarded China Market Research Grant by USDA

Project to generate sales and marketing approach for California fine wines.
May 06, 2013

Sacramento, California—Family Winemakers of California (FWC) and Stonebridge Research Group LLC have been awarded an Emerging Market Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a roadmap on how to sell California fine wines in the Chinese market.

“On behalf of California producers that haven’t found a foothold in the growing Chinese market, we’re delighted USDA saw merit in our proposal to focus on sales approaches for fine wines,” said Paul Kronenberg, FWC president. “We partnered with Stonebridge Research because of its deep background in market development and research capabilities since China has great potential for expanding commercial exports of California fine wine and U.S. agricultural producets and commodities.”

Barbara Insel, president of Stonebridge Research Group, will lead the initial one-year research project. “The challenge, using key players with the Foreign Agricultural Service, Chinese distributors and retailers, and key private buyers, is to identify culturally inclusive approaches to compete with other foreign wine imports at fine wine price points,” noted Insel. The layered study will develop this intelligence organically at educational and brand introduction settings. “The goal of the grant is to develop a resource guide that can be used by wineries throughout the nation on how to market to the segment of the Chinese population that are interested in U.S. fine wines, as well as broaden that segment.”

The project is focused on positioning the fine wines produced by California’s family wineries to appeal to China’s “aspirational” wine consumers by building the associations between the wines and desirable/prestigious/luxury experiences.

One key aspect of the project is developing a prestigious California fine wine education curriculum that would not only build awareness and expertise in the category among both the wine trade and private clients, but also become a vehicle to engage potential surrogates in China in spreading the message. This will start to build a community of “influentials” familiar with the quality and story of fine California wines through these programs who then can drive demand through word of mouth. Including in the project some of California’s finest wines will show China’s most influential consumers the exceptional quality of California’s family winemakers and the attractiveness of the taste profile for the Chinese palate and wine consuming style.

The goal is to develop a “mid-tier” wine segment—below super-luxury, but well above the value category to which too many Chinese wine consumers and wine experts have consigned wines from California. “Mid-tier” in China’s wine market would be wines that retail in China between US$40 and US$200 per 750 ml bottle.

The project also seeks to expand awareness of California wines beyond Beijing and Shanghai to other major cities, specifically Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xiamen.

The $369,292 grant is for FY 2013, the first year of an expected three year undertaking.

About Family Winemakers of California

FWC was founded in 1991 to give voice and presence to small, family wineries in the public policy arena. The association lobbies for wine producer rights and improved market access in the U.S. domestic market, and has an active membership of over 550 California wineries. FWC assists its members in wine marketing with trade and consumer tastings throughout California. For more information, visit

About Stonebridge Research

Founded in 2008, Stonebridge Research Group is the leading source of data-driven market insight and strategic business advisory services for the wine industry. Stonebridge understands the market for wine in all its elements: the consumers, the producers, the wholesalers, the importers, the regulators and the trade. Stonebridge combines that knowledge with decades of experience in global investment, economics and finance. Stonebridge’s strength is collecting and synthesizing data across disciplines, sectors and industries to build an integrated picture that tells clients what is really occurring in their markets. For more information, visit

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