Storage facilities flourish
The success of the wine business is dependent on a range of support services. According to a government survey last year, the number of people employed in wine-related businesses in 2008 and 2009 rose by more than 5,000 to about 40,000, working not only in wine retailing and wholesaling, but in storage, transport and logistics, wine education, auctions, marketing, event management, and industry-specific information technology services.
The storage and logistics industry is strongly represented at this year's Hong Kong International Wine Fair, with companies from Hong Kong, Italy, the mainland, France and Britain taking part.
British company Octavian Vaults operates cellars 30 metres beneath the hills of Wiltshire, which it says 'gives us a naturally balanced environment ideal for the cellarage of fine wine. Here, perfect temperature is a constant, and humidity is controlled at the optimum level'.
When wines leave the cellars, Octavian issues clients with a Certificate of Pristine Storage with a number of security features to prevent fraud. Wines with these certificates can command a premium at auction. The company claims to look after more than 10,000 fine wine collections and, by stock value, more than 25 per cent of its private clients come from Asia.
Octavian is a first-time exhibitor at the fair, and chairman Nigel Jagger is attending. Ella Lister, the company's fine-wine strategy consultant, will speak at the Wine Auction and Investment Forum on Saturday about wine storage provenance, and its role in investment.
Octavian's Hong Kong counterpart, Crown Wine Cellars (CWC), also offers underground storage in ideal conditions and a guarantee of provenance.
'The optimum storage conditions for wine are imperative for anyone who understands the dramatic impact that adverse climatic conditions can have on any living product,' says CWC's general manager Gregory De'eb.
'Extreme, or continuously unstable temperature and humidity will have an irreversible, negative impact on the taste of any wine, rendering it undrinkable.'
CWC, whose flagship facility is underground in Shouson Hill, is the pioneer of professional fine wine cellaring in Asia.
'We were the first by some margin to prove that Asia can have the best wine cellar and storage conditions in the world, and we are proud to note that we are still acknowledged to hold this position,' De'eb says. 'Our network of world-leading underground cellars has now spread to Beijing and Shanghai.'
Last year, Hong Kong introduced the world's first Wine Storage Management Systems Certification Scheme, and several exhibitors have been certified as meeting the stringent standards of the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA), which is also an exhibitor.
Among them are CWC, Kerry Logistics (Hong Kong), China Merchants Godown Wharf & Transportation, Collezione Wine Cellars and Jebsen Logistics.