China's rapidly increasing middle class has discovered Australian wine and the can't get enough of the higher-end stuff.
Wine Australia’s Export Report showed China's market grew 64 percent in the 12 months to march this year, making it worth $397 million annually.
While demand for bottles of all prices increased, Wine Australia chief executive Andreas Clark said it was the $10 per litre market that grew the most -- by 91 per cent -- and globally, it was the premium products being taken up.
"It is very pleasing to see the increasing demand for premium Australian wines, particularly in Asia," Clark said.
"Bottled wine exports grew by 16 per cent to $1.7 billion, the highest value in five years.
"There was growth in bottled exports at all price points, but growth was strongest at the higher end. Wines with an FOB of $50 per litre or higher now make up a third of all exports over $10 per litre for the first time."
The top five most exported varieties from Australia were shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, shiraz/cabernet sauvignon blends and merlot.
An Australian wine shopfront in China.
Clark said Australia's Free Trade Agreement with China no doubt had an effect on the year's figures despite being in place for three months. Other countries with free trade agreements also experienced growth in wine sales, with exports to South Korea increasing by 51 percent and exports to Japan increasing by 10 percent.