Industries Economic Development

Chateau Morrisette to export wines to China

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Print this page Jessica Sabbath
Chateau Morrisette, one of Virginia’s oldest wineries, has signed a five-year agreement to export its wine to China.

The Floyd County winery sent more than 1,150 cases of its 2011 Merlot to Tianjin, China, which was scheduled to arrive during Gov. Bob McDonnell’s current trade mission to Asia. The agreement with the Tianjin Commodity Exchange Company Ltd. is the winery’s first foreign export.

“We knew in the domestic market that we’re in such tight competition with the number of wineries in the state of Virginia that we felt like part of our growth strategy needed to be both domestic and internationally,” George Weldon, general manager of Chateau Morrisette, said in a telephone interview with Virginia Business.

The company’s growth plans matched the McDonnell administration’s goals to develop international export opportunities for Virginia agribusiness.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services connected Chateau Morrisette with potential Chinese buyers, who visited the winery last October.

“They brought in nine buyers from China, and we gave them a tour of the winery and had a dinner where we were able to pair our wines with different foods at our restaurant,” Weldon said.

“At the end of the meal they all were in agreement that they really loved the Merlot, and that was the wine they wanted to start the relationship with,” Weldon said.

Weldon said Chinese buyers mainly look for Merlots, Cabernet Francs and Cabernet Sauvignons. These “are the three wines where the Chinese market really understands,” Weldon said.

The Chinese buyers are scheduled to come back to the winery in the next couple of months to decide on which wines will be part of the next shipment.

“This sale is another positive result of the ongoing focus we've placed on increasing recognition of Virginia's outstanding agricultural products and growing exports of those products to key markets, like China, around the world,” McDonnell said in a statement. “These exports ultimately provide new opportunities, and new jobs, for our agribusinesses and citizens.”

Chateau Morrisette was established 37 years ago and is one of Virginia’s largest wineries, producing 60,000 cases of wine each year.

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