Your company, Degustar, is based in Stuttgart, Germany but you also work in Shanghai, China. Can you please summarize all the activities offered by Degustar in Germany and in China?
Degustar is a consulting, media, event and education company. In Germany we support wineries interested in the Chinese market to understand business behavior and cultural differences, when hitting the market. In China we communicate and analyze wine importers, to define the right partners for wineries. Meaning to match on a level of size, pricing, tasting profile and other required aspects. When there is a match, we offer the service to do marketing, PR, organize events with KOLs and other business-related people. As a result, the business considers us as opinion leaders ourselves, which leads to requests for presentations, trainings and events for employees, clients and officials.
Could you give us a bit of background on your personal history in wine and how you end up expanding your activities from Germany to China?
Everything started very personal discussing with a friend about Italian and Spanish wines. As a Spaniard, I always supported Spanish wine and took it as a personal challenge to make people realize the development of Spanish wines in the 80s/90s. On a point I took my passion for wine and transformed it into my business. I started rootedly working in a wine shop. Over several steps I studied and visited courses to be able to find the right match for the clients in the shop. Collecting so much knowledge and sharing it with friends led to the request of other people to offer this as training courses and I opened the wine school “Vinoria”. Other steps were consulting wine shops, working for a winery and design education formats for a Chinese company.
Offering services for China started in 2011, when I got the chance to visit a wine exhibition in Guizhou. Doing consulting for wineries it was the chance to get a feeling for the market and the idea was to use the information as base for further consulting. On my first trip to China I met my wife, so the love made me expand to this country.
Degustar is going to be the first wine school to offer the Spanish Wine Scholar program in Germany. What type of education experience do you provide to your students and what do you think sets you apart from other wine schools?
First, I am very happy and proud to be the first wine school to offer the SWS in Germany. The experience I want to provide is edutainment. If I can feel something and image this, it will stick to my brain and heart. Important is always to have the perfect knowledge base, which I did by taking the SWS course. It allows me to feel comfortable and safe with the needed “functional” information. Having travelled Spain for a year and Spanish blood running my veins, enables me to add the feeling and give a lively impression about this fascinating country.
Your red beret is part of your signature look and I’ve heard that your friends and clients nickname you “Little Red Hat”. Can you tell us where does this unique style come from?
Great question! Now I must admit it was a “researched accident”. Going to tastings I liked wear a hat. They had different shapes and colours. Travelling my first time to China I read, that red is the most important colour. Part of my company logotype is red. So, I also have a red hat, which went on the first trip to China. As for westerners it is very difficult to distinguish Asian people, it is the other way around. But a red hat was perfect, as it made me easy to recognize and filter out of the crowd. The name “Little Red Hat” was afterwards given to me by friends and clients. And in China on official forums and tastings, I am even introduced like this.