Hong Kong readies for annual wine fair

There's little doubt the international wine community has its eyes set on the growing mainland Chinese market and the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair is this year again marketing itself as a gateway to all those riches.

The third edition of the fair - now the largest event of its kind in Asia - will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre November 4-6 and will this year be open to the public on the last day, for a series of tastings and seminars.

Hong Kong is also now enjoying its official Wine and Dine Month - a series of wine and food promotions that runs from October 28 to November 30 and kicks off with this week's Wine and Dine Festival - so there are plenty of options for locals and visitors alike.

But, as always in Hong Kong, behind it all is business and the International Wine and Spirits Fair will this year gather more than 650 exhibitors from 28 countries and regions.

"We have grown consistency over the past three years,'' explained Benjamin Chiu, spokesman for fair organizers the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. "The wine industry in Hong Kong is booming and that has of course coincided with the abolishment of all duties on wine in 2008.''

Since then Hong Kong has passed London to become the second largest market for fine wines, behind New York, while wine imports now top US$500 million (358 million euro) per year.

This year's Hong Kong fair will also feature the second edition of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition, which last year attracted 1,300 wines, as well as a Wine Industry Conference which will focus on trends in the industry. Australia will be the featured country this year with 45 winemakers represented.

Hong Kong has already this year hosted the international Vinexpo Asia-Pacific (http://www.vinexpo.com) - another major gathering and widely seen as the European wine community's attempt to forge stronger links with Asia and with China in particular.

Shanghai too is attempting to get in on the act with the likes of the Shanghai International Wine and Spirits Fair (http://www.wineshanghai.com) but Hong Kong remains the center of attention in the region due to the significant government support for the industry.

Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair
November 4-6
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Wine and Dine Month
October 28 to November 30