For the love of wine! Described as the ‘God of Wine’, George Wong has set up a business in the wine industry aimed at entertaining and educating us on wine. He calls this practice, ‘Wine Edutainment.’
What’s your story?
I am the founder of Wine Lovers Club and also an adjunct professor from Bordeaux Wine School; who holds a Wine MBA. A celebrated wine educator and in-demand speaker often described as “God of Wine” by local media. With a serious tongue for wine but a strong practitioner of “Wine Edutainment” which is a form of entertainment designed to educate as well as to amuse.
My love for wine started as a hobby but later became a passion. I pursued my interest in wine when I took my Bachelor of Oenology, followed by a Wine MBA. Being the only native Singaporean to have a degree in wine has been a turning point in my career.
I coach wine enthusiasts and professionals in the wine trade especially sommeliers to be more competent in their practical knowledge of understanding and appreciation of wine. I even follow up by monitoring my students, through a mystery guest, to audit their service performances upon completion of the course.
Unfortunately, Singapore does not have vineyards or wineries and as wine appreciation is an acquired art, I organise wine tours to Bordeaux in order to provide hands-on experiences such as hand-harvesting grapes, pumping-over, racking and blending.
I work closely with local distributors on brand development, market positioning and also developing higher “brand salience” than the competitors. The core of such brand creation will be offering memorable experiences through Wine Edutainment as an Experiential Marketing tool; and turning consumers into “brand ambassadors”.
What excites you most about your industry?
I have great passion for wine! The worldwide wine industry has become increasingly sophisticated and internationalised. Wine production and consumption patterns have evolved. Each transformation helps Singapore achieve its vision of becoming the region’s gourmet capital and a destination globally recognised for dining, nightlife and entertainment.
I enjoy connecting with people over wine. There’s nothing more exciting than that.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am born and raised in Singapore. It would be my dream to make Singapore into a wine-hub that Asia cannot do without!
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is a springboard into the regional markets. Wines that are launched well and promoted in Singapore generally have a higher possibility of acceptance in the regional markets.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs
Who inspires you?
The most influential critic in the world today happens to be a critic of wine, Robert Parker Jr., who is revolutionising the industry.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I am the first and only native Singaporean to hold a Wine MBA degree.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would do what I am doing all over again!
How do you unwind?
Pick-up a great bottle of wine from my cellar and head towards one of my favourite restaurants with a group of buddies.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Wine producing regions in China to compare the quality of French or Italian wines. You would be surprised, four years ago, a Chinese wine won a trophy for best Bordeaux-style blend at the Decanter Wine Awards, beating competition from Bordeaux itself!
Everyone in business should read this book:
The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste
Shameless plug for your business:
Learn Wine Appreciation from the “God of Wine!”
“Fancy a course on Bordeaux wine – in Bordeaux?”
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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