Eddie Believes Wine Is About Exploring, Empowering And Connecting In Unique Ways
What’s your story?
I am a husband, a father of two boys, a CEO, an Australian qualified winemaker, and a rugby union fanatic. I have been in the wine industry my entire working career (20 years) and am deeply passionate about bringing delicious wines to the masses. Being a self-starter with a huge desire to do something meaningful in the wine world, I founded my own business, The Flying Winemaker in 2010. The Flying Winemaker is a new generation wine production and distribution company that specialises in wines from Australia and New Zealand. My journey has not been limited to wine as I have experience in other industries and types of businesses such as media production, tourism and events. I live by the Latin phrase: Festina Lente, making haste slowly.
What excites you most about your industry?
The wine world is a real people industry which for the most part is fun and entertaining but hard work. It’s a hugely competitive space and that’s what makes it so exciting as you need to be agile, progressive, relatable and a tastemaker, all at the same time. People think the industry is all glitz and glamour but I can tell you it’s definitely not. I have done it all, from working in the vines at 5:30 a.m., doing 20-hour vintage shifts, talking to wine egos that think or pretend to know everything about wine, to working with the on-trade into the wee hours of the morning just to keep the customers happy.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Hong Kong, however I left the city at a young age to attend boarding school in Australia so I could try my luck at a career in rugby. In 2008 I returned to Hong Kong after a stint working in Barolo, Italy with a world-class brand called Vietti. In the same year, Hong Kong had abolished the taxes on imported wine and the opportunities were booming.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
If you asked me 12 months ago I probably would have said Hong Kong, but sadly, with the recent events of political protests and the hit of Covid-19, I would now say Shanghai or Guangzhou are cities that excite me for business opportunities. I believe the future of Asia in the next 20 years will centre around the Greater Bay Area simply due to the investments in the area and the improved connectivity between Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong. Cities like Zhuhai, Macau, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou will flourish immensely.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Patience is a virtue.
Who inspires you?
My wife Frederica. She’s an overachieving, super hard-working mum who still manages to keep the wheels on in the family. Her best trait, despite it being somewhat frustrating at times, is that she will always tell me the brutal truth.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That working from home is actually possible.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have been very fortunate in this regard and have enjoyed my journey thus far. Regardless of it being a win or loss, I have been constantly learning, improving, observing, and challenging myself on all personal and professional levels. No regrets, no looking back, just looking ahead to what’s next!
How do you unwind?
Sports and exercise are a big part of my life. I love watching it, playing it, talking about it, and more recently coaching it. I find this is a great way to release the pressures of the day and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If it wasn’t for sports I don’t think I would have survived the wine industry and all the vices that come along with it.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Tough call, but I must say, more recently I had the pleasure of enjoying a few nights at the Four Seasons in Hoi An, Vietnam. Love it there!
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies,” by Jim Collins.
Shameless plug for your business:
We produce some of the most delicious and award-winning wines from Australia and New Zealand. Check out our websites for more information: www.eddiemcdougallwines.com.au OR www.gladstonevineyard.co.nz. We also provide wine education, corporate event services and F&B consultancy.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.