Eddie McDougall: the Flying Winemaker with flying colours

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Eddie McDougall is the CEO of the Flying Winemaker, bringing wines from across 3 continents and 7 countries to Hong Kong. He is an international award-winning winemaker, chairman of the Asian Wine Review and host of “The Flying Winemaker” – an international wine and travel show.

Eddie made the move to Hong Kong when the local government abolished the wine tax in 2008 which he saw as the perfect moment to enter the market. With a cross cultural upbringing in Hong Kong and Australia, and his expertise and knowledge received through his early exposure to the wine industry in Australia, Eddie was able to connect and propel the city’s wine scene.

Eddie is a leading trendsetter in the wine scene in Asia. From ‘Rosé Revolution’  to ‘Urban Project’ - one of his signature product series drawing inspiration from Hong Kong’s iconic elements: Kai Tak (old international airport), Rickshaw, Sampan and Old Peak Road, Eddie is committed to flying wine to drinkers and celebrating good wines.

Eddie spoke to Advance to share how he is championing the wine business in Hong Kong. 

Interview by Tammy Lee, Marketing & Communications Officer, Advance

Why did you choose Hong Kong as your business base?

In 2008 the Hong Kong government abolished all taxes on table wine which led to a major influx of commercial opportunities in the wine trade. I realised at that point in time the level of knowledge and understanding of Australian wine was quite limited and that there was scope to help educate the market. 10 years has gone by and it’s safe to say that Hong Kong is now one of the world’s major hubs for wine business.

Is there any particular reason you called  your business “The Flying Winemaker”?

Being a winemaker myself who has produced wines across 3 continents and in 7 countries it makes the word “Flying” very applicable. In addition, we wanted to differentiate ourselves in the market and ensure our customers know they are working with a team who has real-life winemaking experiences. From our E-commerce manager to wine educators, all of our team have a level of wine production experience in a world class wine region. 

Have you seen a lot of change since you founded The Flying Winemaker in the drinking habits among Hongkongers' ?

Yes I have noticed drinking habits evolve. Much of this is driven by the fast education of the consumer.  10 years ago categories like Rosé would not be even considered a wine of choice but now you are starting to see consumers and trade embrace this. Perhaps you could say the Rosé Revolution is in full swing. 

How important are food wine pairings?
I believe a lot of emphasis has been placed on food and wine matching which is excellent as a sensory experience however it doesn’t need to be a sticking point for the enjoyment of wine. People should drink and eat whatever they like. 

How important is choosing the right glass when drinking wine?
I think there’s a level of importance to aid the enjoyment but not critical. After all it is the wine you are consuming and not the glass. My general rule is; bigger the glass then better. I love to give the wine lots of air and room to swirl. Don’t get hung up on shapes and crystal content of the stemware.

Can you share some interesting facts about wine production?
Since becoming the Chairman of the Asian Wine Review publication I have been fortunate enough to explore several emerging wine regions across Asia, especially in China. In China a region called Ningxia is in the north west of the country which boarders the Gobi Desert. Ningxia is extremely dry and warm in the summer but in winter it is bitterly cold with temperatures regularly dropping below -20 degrees Celsius. The winter weather system is so extreme the vineyards across the entire region are buried under soil to keep the vines warm during its dormancy period. This work is all done by hand and is incredibly labour intensive. 

What do you miss most about Australia?

My family, great food produce and fresh air - in that order.