Misha reports on our latest visit to two of our key Asian markets
We travel to Asia at least a couple of times a year, usually with one trip to North Asia and one to South East Asia so that we can cover all of our Asian export markets. However on our first trip for this year we combined Hong Kong and Singapore (with a few days of R&R in Thailand between them).
It’s always nice to start a promotional trip away with a stop in the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge in Auckland and be served one of our wines. Our ‘Limelight’ Riesling was being served as part of the Fine Wines of New Zealand program. Air New Zealand selects wines from this prestigious list of wines and our Riesling was selected for the top tier of Air New Zealand lounges as well as on-board in Business Class.
Arriving in Hong Kong early morning on 15th May, our first appointment was a tasting and then lunch at one of the island’s newest restaurants, Roganic, where Michelin-star British celebrity chef, Simon Rogan shows his contemporary take on British food. After our tasting with Wine Director Lauri Vainio, we enjoyed an impressive lunch which showcased the chef’s creative flair and their very impressive wine list.
We also had a chance to meet up with Glenn Prudhomme at the Hong Kong Country Club which has a fantastic location overlooking Deep Water Bay. We first met Glenn when he was Director of Food & Beverage at Laucala Island in Fiji – one of the world’s most exclusive private resorts owned by Red Bull co-founder and billionaire, Dietrich Mateschitz. Glenn has found another amazing place to work at the HK Country Club – one of the most exclusive private member’s clubs on the island with a waiting list to join the club upwards of ten years. We were delighted Glenn already had our wines on the list there but we tasted through our range to inspire him to add more! Our tasting was in the most amazing wine cellar which we heard was the biggest in Hong Kong. Lucky members!
Our main event in Hong Kong was hosting a wine dinner at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club – another one on the ‘top clubs of Hong Kong’ list which has over 170 years of history. It’s a great honour to be invited back to this club to host a Wine Dinner having hosted our first one there many years ago. We were hosted by Jacco Klip, the Club’s Operations Manager and we all had a fantastic night with the guests loving the wines and the incredible food matches from their expert team of chefs.
In Hong Kong our wines are distributed by Jebsen Fine Wines and this year marks our tenth year of distribution with them. When we launched our brand, we announced 4 distributors – Negociants in New Zealand and three distributors in Asia, one of which being Jebsen Fine Wines. Ten years later, some of the team has changed but there are still some key staff who have been there since we joined them. We are still honoured to be on this fantastic portfolio of amazing wine brands from around the world including Bollinger, Pio Cesare, Robert Mondavi, Penfolds, and Guigal. The rest of our time in Hong Kong was taken up with wine training for the Jebsen sales team and visiting some restaurant accounts including Woolloomooloo, and the Bar at Amoury which is in the amazing Tai Kwun precinct which used to house the Central Police Station but has now become a thriving hub of heritage, art and food/wine experiences.
After a few days with friends in Koh Samui, Thailand, we headed to Singapore – which always feels like returning home having lived there for 17 years prior to establishing Misha’s Vineyard. We arrived a day early and decided to visit the incredible Gardens by the Bay – an incredible 101 hectares of garden in the centre of Singapore that includes a Flower Dome, a Cloud Forest, a Skyway walk as well as sculptures, speciality gardens and so much more. It is really world class and a must visit for anyone visiting Singapore. Costing SGD 1 billion to build, it demonstrates how Singapore’s small size as an island nation has never limited its ambitions!
Our Singapore visit schedule included lots of our current customers, and a whole host of potential ones at various hotels and restaurants and we did wine training at several places including Stellar at 1-Altitude which has the most amazing location on Level 62 of 1 Raffles Place. It was nice to see Wendy, the sommelier at Stellar as we had done wine training with her and a team at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Singapore many years earlier! As Singapore was also one of our first export markets, we come to know many people in the hospitality sector and it’s always interesting to see where they move as they progress in their careers.
One of those people is William Seah with whom we’ve had a long association. William has long been a supporter of our wines and it was a pleasure to team up with his crew once again at the new Wine & Friends Gourmet in the Chinatown area of Singapore. We had a relaxed evening with lots of serious wine aficionados. We also visited Lewin Terrace, a restaurant who have been serving our wines for many years (even when it was home to Flutes restaurant). This is thanks to Rasheed who seems to have a long standing relationship with this classic British colonial bungalow in Fort Canning park that used to be the former residence of the Chief of the Central Fire Station.
Our final night in Singapore was a trade dinner at the famous Jumbo restaurant but at their newest outlet in the Ion Building in the heart of the Orchard Road shopping precinct. It was great to see some old friends including Sandra from the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) who’s been buying our wines for many years, and to have to chance to showcase our range of wines with some of Singapore’s icon dishes – including Chilli crab. Our guests at the dinner included Jeffrey from Six Senses Hotel, Ranjit from Singapore Recreation Club, Andy from the Passion Group, Melissa and Jie Ming from the Fairmont Hotel, and Purple Gao from the Tanglin Club.
It must have been a successful trip to Singapore as we have just confirmed a return trip in November! On our next visit we’ll also take the opportunity to visit Malaysia and the island of Langkawi and work with our distribution partners there. We can’t wait!