Seven days selling Aussie wine in the Gobi desert in October gave Piers Lewis, founder of ASX-listed wine exporter Dawine, an “eye opener” on how big China is, and how much money the Chinese have.

Dawine (ASX:DW8) was the official wine supplier to this years’s Alxa FB-Life Festival in Inner Mongolia, an ode to cars with ambitions to grow attendance from 940,000 people last year to 3 million this year, on a 55 sq km site.

The festival — described as the “Party in the Desert of one million off-road car owners” — ended up at “1 million to 2 million over a 26 sq km festival site”, Dawine told investors. That still shades Canberra’s popular SummerNats car event, which attracts 120,000 people.

Monster truck operator Monster Jam at the FB-Life festival.

“The amount of money that was there from a car point of view was unbelievable. The number of souped-up, off-road cars in attendance was something to see,” Mr Lewis told Stockhead.

“I had some skepticism about the size of the event — could there be that many people turn up to one event in the desert?

“But the size of the event, the square kilometres, you couldn’t visualise it. You’d try to walk around a portion of it and you realise yes, it was that big.”

Pic: Terence Marsh
Monster trucks, yurts, and a fence straight out of The Great Wall. Pic: Terence Marsh

Mr Lewis’ company Dawine (pronounced ‘Da-wine’) signed a deal two months before the desert car rally to be the exclusive wine provider.

Dawine has not released sales figures for the event, telling Stockhead there was “debate” on whether to publicly announce the numbers.

Some pre-sales were recorded in the September quarterly report.

In that quarter, Dawine collected $88,000 which also included non-festival sales into China’s online WeChat and Tmall marketplaces. At a price point of $20, at the cheaper end of Dawine’s offers, that equates to about 4400 bottles.

At the end of August Dawine had 13,000-15,000 bottles in its Chinese warehouse.

In the June quarter it collected about $1000 in receipts.

Dawine’s share price over the past year. Source:

Dawine didn’t sell out at the event — nor did they come home with excessive stock, he said.

“The event wasn’t a party event as such,” he said. “Going into it, I’m not really sure what I was expecting.”

City-dwellers and Westerners were more interested in the wine — which was priced at 100-250 renminbi ($20-50) — than locals from the nearby town 45 minutes away. 

“I had the feeling leaving the event I was surprised we didn’t sell more, based on the amount of people that were there, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t sell what we thought we would.”