Meet Sam Stephens, Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador Asia and Education Lead SEAMEA

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Tell us about your business

Treasury Wine Estates is the largest pure play wine company in the World, with over 70 wineries across the globe, including icons such as Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Wynns, Beaulieu Vineyards, Beringer, Stags’ Leap and Matua to name a few. We produce wines at every quality and price level, from great everyday tipples to some of the most coveted and collected fine wines in the world. We sell our portfolio in over 150 countries and have regional offices in Melbourne, Singapore, Shanghai, London and Napa Valley. Within the South East Asian region we are a true category and industry leader and distribute our wines across 30 different countries through On Trade, Off Trade, Grocery and Direct to Consumer Channels. At Treasury we are passionate about both our wines and our brands and challenge ourselves to make our wines as accessible and exciting as possible to consumers everywhere.

What’s your role all about?

As the Brand Ambassador, my role is focused on bringing our brands and wines to life for trade, media and consumers across the whole region of South East Asia. This usually involves a lot of travel and hosting tastings, dinners, trainings, media events and masterclasses in a wide variety of locations. There is a real thirst for knowledge when it comes to wine and so being able to present our wines in an informative, engaging and enjoyable way is key. I can be hosting a lunch for wine media one minute and a training for Sommeliers the next, it is a truly diverse and exciting role, made all the better for the amazing range of wines and brands I get to deal with on a day to day basis. I have worked in the wine trade for over 20 years now and the diversity of places, culture and people I get to encounter in this role and region make this by far the most exciting role I have ever had.

What’s the hot topic in your sector right now?

In the current climate, the topic on everyone’s lips is virtual events! In a field like wine education, physical events and experiences with tastings are key, so with the all the COVID restrictions everyone has been looking at how we are able to flex and adapt. My colleagues and I have been working hard to move as much as possible to a digital medium while still keeping everything as engaging and interesting as possible. This has meant us exploring channels like Zoom (along with 99% of the world) but also other platforms like Instagram live, Vimeo and Facebook where we have been able to reach a wide audience and get great engagement and interaction. We have also worked with local market partners to deliver tasting packs for events so we can still taste wine with people as well as using interactive quizzes, polls and games to make these sessions interactive. Although it may not replace the wine dinners of old we have been delighted with the enthusiasm out there for digital tastings and classes.

Why are you a member of AustCham in Singapore?

For me, AustCham has always been a great organization to not just connect Australians working abroad, but a great way to keep up with the people and companies that continue to drive Australian business forward. I have lived away from Australia for almost half my life now, but membership with AustCham makes me feel that I still have current and relevant connections both here and back home. The opportunity to network with (and learn from) so many people from across a diverse range of industries is priceless and it is a great community to be part of.

Where is the best place to get wine in Singapore?

I always get asked this and the first thing to think is whether it is to have a drink out or to have a bottle at home. For going out I am big fan of wine with food and for this, it is hard to go past Skai at the Swissotel, they have a fantastic selection of wines by the glass and bottle, food to match and stunning views. For a more relaxed vibe I recently was lucky enough to have few glasses of great wine at the W Hotel on Sentosa which felt like a real “Holiday” treat! For enjoying a bottle at home I always say to people that the wine range in the Grocers in Singapore has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years. The selection at the big Cold Storage outlets like Great World City and Tanglin Mall is exceptional with gems for all palates. To keep the fridge stocked with TWE wines I always recommend where there is a great range of wines at Friends and Family rates.

What will be your first trip when we can travel again?

Going from travelling every week for week to nothing it all it has been a shock to the system but there has been plenty of optimistic window shopping going on in the Stephens house. We have had to cancel a trip to Hoi An and Sapa in Vietnam twice in recent years so this is still very much up there but I think the need for some non-tropical weather will trump that and so either Winter in Margaret River or proper snow and Northern Lights in the Nordics would be the dream depending on when we can travel again.

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