Subscription-based services are the new big thing on the internet these days — you can get anything from socks and underwear to food and wine shipped to you on a regular basis. Shanghaiist spoke to Daniel Damke and Victor Valdes of the 17°56° Chile Wine Club which seeks to pamper lazy oenophiles across China by delivering 2 bottles of reserve wine from top Chilean vineyards to their door each month. But it doesn’t just stop there. Read more to find out.
From left: Victor Valdes and Daniel Damke with Aurelio Montes, vice-president of Wines of Chile.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Please tell us something about you and how you came to be in China.
Daniel: I’ve been in China for almost 10 years, I arrived in 2005 to do an Internship in the Commercial Office of Chile Consulate in Shanghai, after 6 months, I decide to stay in China and open a company. Today our company participates in many different businesses, one of them being the Chile Wine Club.
Victor: I arrived in China attracted by this new project. I have always been interested in the wine industry and also I believe China, especially Shanghai, is the place to be right now. It’s a market with enormous potential and the country that is grasping the world’s attention more and more every day. So when Daniel shared his idea and invited me to lead this new initiative, I did not hesitate and moment and immediately started packing for China.
How did you come to set up 17°56°, the Chile Wine Club? What has been done so far?
Victor: The Chile Wine Club kicked off last May. We established the physical office, hired our publishing and commercial staff. But most important for us at the beginning stage was to guarantee the support of Chilean governmental organizations here in China as well as the wineries. Fortunately our objectives were closely aligned, they believed in the idea, and so today we are endorsed by the Consulate of Chile in Shanghai, by the Trade Commission of Chile known as ProChile and by the Wines of Chile Association. We also receive a lot of support and collaboration from all the major Chilean wineries present in the Chinese market.
Daniel: At our official launch on July 24, we invited many Shanghainese celebrities and influential businessman together with top sommeliers and wine critics to witness and celebrate the birth of our wine club. Since then we’ve organized and participated in more than 50 wine tastings and wine-related networking events, we presented the Chile Wine Club at major fairs and exhibitions.
What are your goals in all of this?
Daniel: What we want to achieve through 17°56° are basically two things. First, we would like to introduce to Chinese consumers and expats an entirely new value proposition — high quality wine delivered directly to your doorstep every month together with a new issue of an entertaining magazine full of wine-related insights and invitations to networking events. And, most importantly, all that comes at a very competitive price.
Victor: In the future, we’re also looking to promote Chilean products others than wine. The fertile lands of our country, from the Atacama Desert in the north all the way to Patagonia in the south, have blessed the people of Chile with the most amazing salmon, fruits and vegetables, olive oils, etc. The country itself is also one of the top tourist destinations combining cities rich in history and natural beauty of volcanoes, lakes, glaciers and endless blue skies. We would like people living in Shanghai and other Chinese cities to choose Chilean products next time they go shopping and, of course, consider Chile as their next travel destination.
How have Chilean wines been performing in the Chinese market?
Daniel: Chinese wine consumption has almost doubled in the last 5 years and is expected to double again by 2016 to become largest global wine consumer. No doubt, the Chilean wine industry has been closely watching China. Since the Free Trade Agreement was signed between China and Chile in 2005, the import volume of Chilean wine has been rapidly growing. In 2014, Chile became the second largest importer of wine to the Chinese market.
How do you choose the wines you feature at the Chile Wine Club?
Victor: We love the idea of showing Chilean wine as an ambassador of our country in the world. Wine is a symbol of celebration, of family or friends reunions. It is like putting part of Chile in a bottle and presenting it to the world. We take a great pride in the wines we deliver to members of 17°56°, reason why we chose them with utmost attention and care. We only share the finest red and white wines with our members. Chilean wine is widely recognized all over the world and we want to connect that recognition with all the rest that Chile can show to the world.
How are local wine lovers responding to the idea of the Chile Wine Club?
Victor: The concept 17°56° is introducing to Chinese market is new. This is the first subscription-based wine club in Shanghai. Thus, it might take a little while for consumer to understand the proposal, but once they realize all its benefits, they totally love the idea. And how not to love it? 17°56° solves a problem for appreciators of wine – every month you get 2 bottles of high-quality Chilean wine to your home or office, together with the magazine. Plus, you can participate in many networking events we organize and once again enjoy a glass of rich Chilean wine with interesting people.
Where do you see the Chile Wine Club going in the future?
Daniel: We truly believe 17°56° will become quite popular in China. We expect more and more members, frequent events; and even though we deliver to all China already, we see a great opportunity in expanding to the first- and second-tier cities of China. And later on, who knows, maybe we will go even further and take 17°56° to other countries in Asia, such as Japan or Korea.
What advice do you have for would-be entrepreneurs?
Daniel: That China works different from the west, you have to learn their ways to do business, learn how to build a relationship with your Chinese counterpart, understand their culture and know the consumers. Also it’s very important to be aware how fast China develops and changes their consumer habits. It’s been amazing to observe how new platform have been created and developed in such short time. Understanding how China works and what makes Chinese consumers tick is of fundamental importance for any would-be entrepreneur in this market.
The Chile Wine Club delivers to most provinces in China, and accepts cash-on-delivery within Shanghai.
For more information, visit www.1756chile.com or email [email protected].