Friends Across South-East Asia

Misha’s blog on our recent trip to South-East Asia – March 2024

Special Char Kuay Teow at Casa del Mar, Langkawi
I think we’re always the happiest when we’re travelling – especially in Asia. The schedule for our pre-harvest business trip in early March this year, had us head straight to the tropical island of Langkawi, followed by a couple of days in Penang before driving down to Kuala Lumpur and finishing in Singapore.

Alfred, from SH Maju with Andy at Alfred’s “Gold Bar” at Liquid Valley
After 24 hours of travel to get to get to Langkawi, we were met at the airport by Alfred from SH Maju who imports our wines. He whipped us straight off to lunch at Casa del Mar– a beautiful Mediterranean-style beach resort in Pantai Cenang – a customer of ours for many years. Once the delicious food arrived, we forgave Alfred for not even allowing us to drop by the hotel for a quick freshen up (or nap!). The reality is, Alfred knows us very well and understands I’m just as driven by delicious food as he is and knows all will be forgiven when a Tiger prawn-topped Char Kuay Teow is placed in front of me!

Jasmine, GM of Mercure Hotel, Langkawi with Andy and Misha along with Derrick from SH Maju
On this trip we were able to visit Alfred’s latest retail shop – Liquid Valley Langkawi – complete with a gold bar, a private ‘members’ lounge and of course a wall of Misha’s Vineyard wines. After some bubbles at the bar, we were off to our first informal dinner at The Cliff Restaurant on Cenang Beach along with many of the hoteliers whom we know already, and who will be joining Alfred on a visit to New Zealand later in late April/May. There are so many luxury resorts and hotels on the island of Langkawi and SH Maju is the premium wine distributor for these resorts. The spectacular architecture and design of many of the hotels is reason enough to visit Langkawi, but you also have breathtaking scenery and natural landscapes with pristine beaches, lush vegetation, and of course a tropical climate!

Zul & Misha in the cellar at The Datai, Langkawi
We were excited to visit the Datai Langkawi – which holds a special place in our heart as it was the first hotel we ever sold wine to back in 2009 – and they still serve a range of our wines. We met with the team at St Regis Langkawi and admired their incredible décor especially at Putumayo – a fantastic restaurant which sits over the Andaman Sea. Then we were off shopping with Derrick, who has just joined SH Maju from the Four Seasons Resort, in search of some Indian clothes and accessories as our first Misha’s Vineyard Wine Dinner was at the Four Seasons Resort, and it has an Indian theme! With the guys sporting new Indian shirts, and with me accessorized with bangles and dangling earrings, we arrived at the Four Seasons Resort for an amazing event in an idyllic setting over the Andaman sea.
Four Seasons Resort, Langkawi set for Misha’s Vineyard Wine Dinner
This is also a hotel which is special to us. Many years ago, a guest at the hotel requested our wines as they had enjoyed them at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore. So one of the staff at the hotel contacted us and then introduced us to wine distributor SH Maju, and the rest is history. SH Maju have represented Misha’s Vineyard wines in Langkawi for 10 years, and of course still supply a range of our wines to the Four Seasons Resort. Joining us at the special Indian-themed degustation at the Four Seasons were some of the island’s top hotel executives as well as hotel guests – such an incredible evening!

We sadly boarded our plane in Langkawi for the short hop over the island of Penang – yet another a place that has memories for both Andy and me. Andy remembers camping on the beach at Batu Ferringhi in Penang, in the 1970s when he was doing extended travel around Asia. Back then, there were no hotels there at all – now there are endless streams of tourists and a myriad of accommodation and dining options. For me, when I joined Dell Computer when we were based in Singapore in the 1990s, Penang was a weekly commute as that’s where the Dell PC factory was based, along with some of my team!

Wine Training at Ferment in Penang, Malaysia
Our first point of call in Penang was the Ferment Wine Knowledge Company where we ran an education session for some of the restaurant and hospitality trade. We shared our knowledge of New Zealand wines, the Central Otago region and of course tasted through a range of our wines. Our wines are now available in Penang through Bobco Wines.


Misha’s Vineyard wine dinner at Suffolk House


Then we set off for the beautifully preserved heritage house of Suffolk House – a stunning example of an Anglo-Indian garden house and Malaysia’s only surviving Georgian Mansion. Originally built in the early 1800s, it was the home of many British Governors and has been restored and won the Award of Distinction in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Conservation. The Executive Chef there is Dutch-born Mathijs, who spent the formative years in his culinary career in Sydney before moving to Malaysia where he has headed up various exciting dining venues in Langkawi and Penang. Classically trained, Mathijs combines European cooking techniques with the vibrant and exotic flavours of South-East Asia and particularly those from Penang. It was such an incredible setting for an incredible evening of beautiful food and wine pairings.



Wine training at Feria KL with its raindforest interior

We headed off with our distributor, Chew from Finlux, to Kuala Lumpur – some four hours drive south from Penang. We were scheduled for some wine training at Ferria in Bukit Bintang next to the Westin Hotel KL. Newly opened in 2023, this restaurant has a stunning interior with a unique rainforest theme – just incredible! We met up with the charming Rajesh Kanna, whom we first met at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel when we first launched our brand in Malaysia.

That evening we were off to a fun evening at Hua Yan Seafood Restaurant with some other long-term hospitality friends from the iconic Troika Sky Dining group, Hilton KL, the El Cerdo Group and the Cinnamon Group.

Fantastic trade dinner hosted by Chew from Finlux
We enjoyed a multi course Chinese banquet – with frogs legs, which I enjoyed for the second time on this trip – along with a range of matching Misha’s Vineyard wines of course. We really need to thank our host (and wine distributor of 15 years) CK Chew from Finlux /2WineWine (and to Kent and Jason in his team), for a fantastic evening!




Masterclass at the Sommelier Association of Malaysia SOMLAY
Our next activity was a Masterclass at the Sommelier Association of Malaysia (SOMLAY). It was held at a brand new classroom in the heart of KL and we were the first event in this new venue. It has been established by Roderick Wong, founder of the Sommelier Association and also The Wine Academy (Malaysia). MC for the class was SOMLAY Committee Member, Danny Leong.
Special wine dinner at our distributors salon




Once we wrapped up the Masterclass it was off to the private ‘Salon” of 2WineWine Gallery where our distributor hosts special tastings and events. Our Chef for the evening surprised and delighted us with some amazing dishes including barnacles! They were perfectly matched to a wine of course…our dry Lyric Riesling!


Misha with Strauss Yee, Sommelier at the Hilton KL


Whilst in KL, we stayed at the Hilton Hotel, another hotel who’ve had our wines for many years. Now the Sommelier is Strauss Yee and it was fun to catch up with Straus at our dinner and he looked after us during our stay.




New Zealand Trade Commissioner, Maggie Christie in Singapore with Misha
Singapore was the last stop on this trip and our first meeting was with the New Zealand Trade Commissioner Maggie Christie and the New Zealand High Commissioner Gabrielle Rush. It was great to talk about how things are going with the New Zealand F&B in Singapore.
Trade Lunch in Singapore at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront
Over the next few days we did a series of activities with our long-term Singapore distributor, Crystal Wines. The first trade lunch was at the Copthorne Waterfront Hotel with some of our long-term customers and a few new ones, and we held a wine dinner at That Wine Place, in Holland Village. That Wine Place has an incredible selection of wines in their retail shop and they also run many wine education programs and events and we were delighted to be able to team up with them to host an event on this trip.

The Sommelier team at Marina Bay Sands Singapore under Britt Ng
Much of the rest of our time were one-on-one visits with customers all across the island. We also enjoyed a great catch-up with Inthran Ramasamy at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach – just a small hotel with 634 rooms! Inthran was a big supporter of our wines at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel but now at the new JW Marriott South Beach, he gets to select wines for their amazing outlets including Madam Fan – a fine dining restaurant where we enjoyed some spectacular Cantonese food for lunch. And a visit to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without going to Marina Bay Sands and we were able to meet the Sommelier team there who are now under the direction of Britt Ng, to go through our range of wines. The size of Marina Bay Sands is just incredible – 2600 hotel rooms and is home to over 80 restaurants! We have supplied wines to Marina Bay Sands since their opening in 2010 where we did a special Pinot Noir called “Lucky 8”. The hotel still serves our Pinot Noir.

Sadly we had to board a plane and say farewell to Singapore and south-east Asia. What I miss the most when we leave Asia is the food (of course), but also, also we work with amazing distributors in South-East Asia and we have great relationships with all the teams. And with some of our customers especially across many of the hotels, we’re into the second decade of supplying wines. All those long-term relationships are so important and it makes a business trip like this feel more like a catch up with old friends.


Derrick from SH Maju and Moh Mokhtari from the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi
Kent and Jason from Finlux , our Malaysian distributor who did a great job of our logistics