Sunday, April 25, 2010

Murdoch James Estate in Hong Kong

Well another day, another country, and don't let anyone tell me that international travel is fun. I have now been travelling for two weeks promoting Murdoch James Estate wines in Vietnam and Hong Kong and while the customer interaction is fantastic, I have to say that the travel itself is not. The GFC (trendy abbreviation for the Global Financial Crisis) has hit wineries just as hard as any other business; sales are down, there is a mad scramble to get new distributors, and prices are tumbling. In respect of the latter I have seen crazy prices recently for wines which must be below the cost of production. Why? Because many wineries have high borrowings built up over the years to fund development, and now that banks are taking a hard line and not lending to help wineries handle the down turn, they have to sell at any price they can just to survive.

While we have tried to hold prices at sensible levels at Murdoch James, we have had to work hard to cut expenses, hence my comment above about travel. Don't look for me in either business class, Premium economy or 5 or 4 star hotels. The room I type this in has to be the smallest hotel room I have ever stayed in, but it has saved the company a lot of money.

All that is offset by the thrill of tasting wine with Murdoch James wine lovers all around the world. Getting feedback that our wines compare with the very best from consumers certainly makes it all worthwhile. Since I arrived here Wednesday, I have conducted staff training with the fantastic team at Nathan Fine Wines, called on sommeliers in some great restaurants, done tastings in wine bars with their customers and hosted a winemakers dinner. The latter in the Santa Lucia restaurant, on the 38th floor of the Panorama Hotel (I'm told it is the highest restaurant in Hong Kong). How's that for a view? At that dinner, we matched 7 of our wines with a degustation menu, and again got great feedback on our wines, particularly the Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling. I posted the menu on Facebook just to make you all a little envious! Copy this link to your browser and salivate:

With the visit overall, our Hong Kong importer here feels my time investment here will ceratinly pay off.

Tonight I leave for home in Martinborough, New Zealand to join the team for the rest of the 2010 harvest.

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