Challenges and Opportunities

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Tersina Shieh   January 2022
Challenges and Opportunities

Who would have thought we are still not out of the covid challenge. I remember in early 2020, I was optimistically saying that it was just a nasty flu and would go away in a few months. To date, I still think covid, with all its variants, is a nasty flu but just that we have to live with it.  

Challenge goes hand-in-hand with opportunity. Both F&B trade and wine sales took a dive in early 2020 but they both recovered  since and some even surpassed their 2019 sales (at least until early this month. Loss in visitors revenue was pretty much compensated by local spending. Mid-priced wine sales have been particularly buoyant as more Hongkongers develop the habit of enjoying a glass of wine at home.  

Last year also saw pop-up wine stores replacing big scale local wine events because of social distancing measures. Country theme stores including French GourMay, Vinothek Berlin by Riesling Weeks, SPECTACULAR South Africa, Jidai Yokcho 時代橫丁 and Next Generation! Bordeaux 2.0 alternated with category-focus stores such as Bubble Wonderland, Whisky Live and Hong Kong Cocktail Weeks. These pop-ups offered a range of experiences in addition to wine that lured even non-drinkers to visit. It is fair to say that the wine scene has been promising!

It’s too early to say if pop-up stores will still be the focus this year but I’m sure event organisers will find ways to continue bringing the joy of wine to us. Let’s keep the creative juice and wine flowing as the tiger roars!

What’s on in 2022
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South African wine has been going from strength to strength in the past few years. According to export figures, the volume of import South African wine grew by 39% comparing to 2020. While appreciating the classic wine with long history, consumers are also excited about the new wave wine passionately made by the young guns. At the pop-up store in September organised by Wines of South Africa, over 1,400 bottles of wines were sold in just two weeks, with a few SKUs (both classic and new wave) completely sold out in the market! 
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The annual, market-wide SPECTACULAR South Africa campaign will be held again in April to celebrate South African Freedom Day on 27 April. This is the 9th edition and we invite all F&B outlets and retailers to jump on the bandwagon, and impress your customers with the amazing wine from this spectacular country. Check out the full South African wine suppliers here. Please contact me if you would like more information.

The annual tasting may come again in the pop-up store or another format. Stay tuned and we will announce detail in due course. 

And here are the dates to celebrate the country’s most popular grape varieties and wine:

6 May 2022 (Friday): Sauvignon Blanc Day (#SauvBlancDay)
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26 May 2022 (Thursday): International Chardonnay Day
17 June 2022 (Friday): Chenin Blanc Day (#DrinkChenin)
21 August 2022 (Sunday): National Shiraz Day (#SANationalShirazDay)
30 August 2022 (Tuesday): International Cabernet Sauvignon Day
1 September 2022 (Thursday): Cap Classique Day (#CapClassiqueDay)
24 September 2022 (Saturday): Heritage Day (Braai Day)
8 October 2022 (Saturday): Pinotage Day (#PinotageDay)

Follow WOSA Hong Kong on Facebook and Instagram

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This year we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Riesling Weeks. This annual campaign held in June was launched in 2013 to promote German wine, led by its signature grape Riesling. Over the years, we gained the support of leading hotels, fine dining, classic as well as fusion outlets. In 2019, we introduced German Wine x Asparagus promotion and this has since become an annual seasonal delight in Hong Kong dining scene.

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Germany is also known for its Pinots - Spätburgunder, Grauburgunder and Weisssburgunder (Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc). Therefore, we are excited to launch Pinot Trio promotion as a sub-theme of Riesling Weeks this year. 

To take part in Riesling Weeks in June, participants (F&B outlets, retailers, wine clubs) can choose to:

1. promote at least 3 x German wine of which one must be Riesling; and/or

2. feature Pinot Trio (Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir); and/or

3. devise German wine x asparagus promotion

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Wines of Germany awarded prizes to 10 Riesling Weeks participants who organise the best promotions. 2021 winners were Watson’s Wine, Conrad Hong Kong, The Fine Wine Experience, Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong, Bottle Wander, Deco Wines, Kerry Wines, Mott 32, Ponti Wine Cellars and Wine Palace. Thanks to our partners Marie ClaireLIEBHERR, and Zwiesel for sponsoring the prizes. F&B and retailers: You may be one of the winners this year. Please get in touch with your German wine suppliers, or enquire here

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Last year, we operated Vinothek Berlin by Riesling Weeks pop-up store in June that allowed shoppers to travel and experience Berlin, German landscape, culture, wine and food without actually flying. We will look out for opportunities to bring similar German experience to Hong Kong wine lovers. Watch out for more information. 

And remember 13 March is the official birthday of Riesling. This grape variety was first mentioned in a written document on this day in 1435. This year will be the 587th birthday of Riesling. Remember to toast to this king of white wine!

Follow Riesling Weeks Hong Kong on Facebook and Instagram

Free travel may not be possible but the Vintage Port Academy (VPA) still managed to run workshops in Shanghai and Hong Kong in November with the support from local tutors.

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In Shanghai, Yang Lu MS delivered the VPA workshop to some 30 sommeliers and front line service staff. Euan Mackay from Symington Family Estates and Jorge Ramos from The Fladgate Partnership, founders of VPA, joined the enthusiastic class via Zoom link for an hour Q&A session at the end. Jason Xu, Head Sommelier from Shanghai Tang, took home the Top Student Award with a passionate description of an occasion where an old couple celebrated their wedding anniversary with a 1977 vintage port. 

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In Hong Kong, two workshops were conducted over two consecutive days for 30 personnel from F&B and wine trade. Jorge Nunes delivered the course on behalf of VPA while Euan Mackay and Jorge Ramos shared insights on the Port trend and announced the top student the following day via Zoom link. The award went to Clifford Lee from Mr Kanso, who visualised the moment he shared a glass of port with his son and talked about life.

We are planning similar format VPA workshops in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul later this year. The workshops are open to F&B trade and front line service staff. Please get in touch if you would like to attend. 

Follow Vintage Port Academy on Facebook. VPA alumni can join the Facebook VPA Alumni group or WeChat group.

Stay tuned
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I’m contributing to these publications and websites, hope you will find the readings interesting. 
Foodie, Hong Kong
OpenRice, Hong Kong
Global Gourmet, China
And Facebook and Instagram are always the platforms for the latest news.

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