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Record Attendance at California Wines “Alive” Tastings in Japan and South Korea Signals Bounce Back of Export Markets

Over 30 California vintners traveled to Tokyo, Osaka, and Seoul to connect with more than 1,650 wine professionals through innovative tastings and educational seminars 


SAN FRANCISCO, CA — California Wines’ annual “Alive” trade tastings in Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul concluded last week with a 30% increase in attendance from the previous year, underscoring the significant growth in California wine exports to both Japan and Korea over the past 12 months. The events featured a cutting-edge educational program and innovative technology designed to foster trade professionals’ growing interest in California’s diverse American Viticulture Areas (AVAs). There was a particular focus on Alive’s featured wine region for 2023 — the newly established West Sonoma Coast AVA.

U.S. wine exports, of which more than 95% are from California, have seen several years of explosive growth triggered by market shifts fueled by the pandemic. In 2022, export sales of U.S. wine to Japan grew by 28.3% to reach $109 million in total value, while export sales of U.S. wines to Korea reached $89.7 million. From the onset of the pandemic, California Wines has offered unwavering support to its international trade partners. And the markets are responding: the Seoul tasting with 613 attendees was the largest-ever wine trade tasting held in South Korea, and the Tokyo (710 guests) and Osaka (335) events were the most well-attended California Wines’ tastings ever held in those markets.

Wine Institute Vice President of International Marketing Honore Comfort commented: “Timing is everything. We remained committed to maintaining and investing in our relationships with international trade partners during some incredibly challenging years, and we were there as markets began to rebound and get back to business. Thanks to the dedication of our vintners, we will continue to leverage the exciting growth we’ve seen in Japan and Korea over the past two years.”

“The ‘Alive’ tastings afforded a tremendous opportunity for the West Sonoma Coast Vintners to educate influential trade and media about our AVA and region,” said Ted Lemon, owner and winemaker at Littorai Wines. “I was deeply impressed by the caliber of the attendees and the focus that the events placed on the West Sonoma Coast, and I look forward to seeing our success in the rapidly evolving Japan and South Korea wine markets and beyond.”

In addition to sampling wines and networking with notable producers including Jackson Family Wines, Silver Oak Cellars, Au Bon Climat, Hirsch Vineyards, Littorai, Peay and more, attendees engaged in different educational spaces that employed new technologies to transport them (virtually) to California. The “Wines on a Mission” tasting brought California’s sustainability leadership to life, while Jackson Family Wines’ “Sensory Garden” offered a bridge to wine through a collection of aromatic plants and herbs.

As the featured wine region for 2023, vintners from the West Sonoma Coast AVA including Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards, Akiko Freeman of Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Jasmine Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards, Ted Lemon of Littorai and other prominent vintners led a seminar titled “The Vanguard of Terroir-Driven California Wine.” The session explored the rugged West Sonoma Coast region and its defining characteristics: cool maritime climate, proximity and influence of the Pacific Ocean and distinctive redwood landscape.

California Wines will continue to foster importer relationships and expand market access in these key markets with upcoming trade events in 2023, including the California Wines Spring Promotion in Japan (April and May) and the California Wine Bootcamp in South Korea (mid-May).

For more information or to request an interview with a California Wines representative, please contact Wine Institute Communications Director, Gino DiCaro, at



About Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the administrator of the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) for California vintners representing 80% of U.S. wine production and 95% of U.S. wine exports. More than 195 California wineries exporting to 142 countries participate in Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program. The program has 16 representatives in key export markets worldwide who provide on-site support to wineries and help develop markets for California wines in more than 30 countries, including:

Czech Republic
Hong Kong
South Korea
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom

The California Wine Export Program, a public-private partnership supported by winery contributions and the MAP, features California as an environmental leader with distinctive wine regions, an ideal climate for growing world-class wines, an iconic lifestyle, and a culinary tradition rooted in locally grown products. In addition to marketing and promoting California wine overseas, Wine Institute conducts a comprehensive international public policy program focused on regulatory cooperation, removing trade barriers, and growing California wine exports. See or the consumer website:


Headshot of Gino DiCaro

Gino DiCaro

Director, Communications 916-730-3443