Demand for Chateau Grand Traverse’s cherry wine continues to explode in China. After exporting more than 1,500 cases over the past 18 months, the Traverse City-based winery says it hopes to dramatically increase that number to 8,000 to 10,000 cases by the year’s end.
“China is one of the fastest growing and most competitive wine markets in the world,” says Eddie O’Keefe, president of the winery. “Wineries from around the world are competing in this emerging market and we are finding a niche with our cherry wine since it is a unique and stand-alone product among the many wines being offered.”
China represents less than 2 percent of the Chateau Grand Traverse’s annual production volume of 110,000 cases, or 1.3 million bottles, with shipments taking place every three to four months. Based on feedback from the company’s export broker, however, O’Keefe says the winery may soon be sending about 700 cases every two months.
“The demand for our cherry wine product will continue to grow in the coming year and we will most likely need to expand our production significantly on this particular item,” O’Keefe says.
Most recently, Chateau Grand Traverse shipped 300 cases of the cherry wine to China for the annual Chinese New Year celebration, which starts in mid-February. This marks the fifth commercial wine order that the company has shipped to China in recent years as part of its ongoing export-marketing program.
Considering that cherries were not as affected as the state’s grapes were by the extreme cold weather last winter, O’Keefe says now is the time to expand the winery’s cherry wine marketing efforts.
“There really aren’t any wineries that are making true cherry wine around the world and shipping (to China),” O’Keefe says. “That’s why the cherry wine has been doing so well.”
The Traverse Bay Winery brand, which also includes cherry Riesling wine, cherry wine sangria, and spiced cherry wine, is sold in stores throughout 10 states and is available for sale online in 16 states.