Ballarat region wineries may need to reassess priorities after the trade dispute between the Chinese and Australian governments escalated late last week with tariffs up to 200 per cent on Australian wines announced.
The Chinese government accused Australian exporters of flooding the market with cheap wines, among other goods.
While many wineries around Ballarat are focused on the domestic market, some are purely operating for export, and until now China has been a popular market.
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According to Blue Pyrenees chief executive Andrew Koerner, for those businesses, the announcement will hit even harder after an already challenging year.
"I can think of 10 or 12 wineries that only export to China, they would be absolutely devastated with this news," he said.
"If they stop exporting, that would cause problems domestically - the usual reaction to ships being stopped is wine being dumped at home, and that's probably the bigger danger."
Mr Koerner said his business only exports about 25 per cent of its produce, and of that 25 per cent, he estimated about 20 per cent went to China.
"There are those who don't at all, a lot of the smaller Pyrenees wineries don't," he said.
"We sit in the middle ... and we're lucky our biggest market is domestic, but we've had our own issues this year."
Michael Unwin, owner of Michael Unwin Wines in Cardigan Village, said it was a "political" "war of words", but not "catastrophic" for his business.
"While our core business isn't focused on export, it's a real issue for the industry as a whole," he said.
"The industry operates best by operating in a stable way, and by having good, strong competitors - I feel sick for people who have focused a large part of their business on China.
"It is only a political thing, it can be rectified much faster than fires, frost, and flood."
Mr Koerner agreed.
"We're calling on the Australian government to stop poking the bear, or the dragon in this case, and let's see if we can't settle our differences," he said.
"We don't agree with everything China does either, but to shoot your biggest trading partner is crazy.
"There's been warning shots fired all year, this would be the last one, because if they don't do something now, those high taxes will become permanent and there'd be huge damage."
Mr Koerner said locally, the focus was on attracting tourists back to the region.
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"Since Melbourne opened up again, we're seeing increased visitation, we're booked out most days in our cafe, so that part is great," he said.
"Direct to consumer (sales are) going great guns, and that's the only positive in a really tough year.
"Do the region one favour - get behind your local wineries, that's the best thing you can do."
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