The Chinese crackdown on Australian reds has shown up in the latest export figures from the Margaret River wine region. Since the disputed tariffs on reds was imposed last year, the bottom has dropped out of the Chinese market with several wineries abandoning years of developing inroads into the country’s biggest trading partner. Chinese exports dropped 20 per cent to just one per cent of the latest figures tracking exports to the end of September. The good news was trade with the United Kingdom increased 12 per cent, representing a gain of $6.3 million, despite an overall trade slump of 20 per cent, equal to a $23 million hit. Margaret River Wine Association chief Amanda Whiteland was quick to point out exports were only a part of the wine economy. “The UK is back as the number one export market for Margaret River wine, accounting for 27 per cent share of value compared to 19 per cent share of value the year prior,” she said. “Overall exports are down 20 per cent in value, but this is not only related to the China tariffs, but also due to COVID-19 and shipping challenges. “Fortunately, Margaret River wine sales domestically have been strong and offsetting much of the export decline for many local wine producers.” Burch Family Wines sales director and export manager Richard Burch told the Times the Chinese market switched off “like a light switch” last year. “It was obviously devastating to those of us investing in growing a market with such huge potential for Australian wines — mainly full-bodied red wines — but it has taught us that we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket,” Mr Burch said. “Fortunately, there is growing interest for Australian wines all over the world, and we’re seeing strong interest for our wines in the UK, where our MadFish range is a top performing red and white in its price category. “We also exported just under 100,000 bottles of MadFish chardonnay in the December quarter to Sweden after a major supply deal for WA wine.” Flametree winemaker and general manager Cliff Royle said Margaret River exports to China were less exposed than other regions due to a focus on “the premium end of the market”. “Some of the bigger companies might have had some exposure, but in general most companies were able to place wines into other markets like Singapore, UK and USA.” Mr Burch said the more wineries could generate interest in existing markets, the better it was for the industry. “Selling wine into international markets is a difficult task,” he said. “The further you go from your home, the harder it becomes to do business.” Mr Burch and other figures pointed to the new WA Wines to the World five-year program supported by the State Government as a potential big driver of future exports. Exports to the US were also down 13 per cent and Singapore 23 per cent, with growth in the Canadian and Hong Kong markets.