WineSPIT, a new training programme for staff in Hong Kong has been announced.
Wine Sales Professionals, Industry and Trade (WineSPIT), is the brainchild of Debra Meiburg MW and has the backing of 12 major importers and industry operators in Hong Kong such as Summergate, Altaya and Crown Wine Cellars.
Meiburg told the drinks business that the response from the trade when the programme was presented to them had been “immediate”.
The programme aims to provide – through a mixture of seminars and “hands on” workshops – “essential wine knowledge, sales techniques and best practices that will be directly applicable to their [staff] job performance.”
Meiburg explained that the first conference will take place in March next year and will offer 15 seminars in three “streams”.
The first will focus on tasting sessions including regions and countries such as Sonoma, Georgia and Austria which “need more exposure” according to Meiburg.
The second stream is more about raising technical skills from “soil to the glass”. The various seminars are more hands-on and include a look at different soil types and observing their water absorption and retention and even learning canopy management, training and pruning “vines” (in reality ivy for the purposes of demonstration).
Meiburg explained that this section of the conference was designed to show Hong Kongers more directly what winemakers talk about when they visit.
“Winemakers always talk about soil,” she explained, “but it means nothing to most Hong Kongers, our soil is concrete.”
Similarly most staff will not know what terms such as canopy management mean having never been near a vineyard, “so how do you bring that experience to them?” asked Meiburg.
Other seminars in this session will focus on role play and one-on-one sessions such as they might encounter on the shop floor.
In this they will be presented with customers often returning bottles complaining of a “fault” real or imagined concerning premature oxidation, TCP, heat damage and tartrate crystals.
The training will teach them how to deal with such situations, give advice and ultimately “benefit the customer”.
The third and final stream is more “managerial” in aim, focusing on digital media strategies and building up e-commerce, a shopping channel that is some way behind in Hong Kong when it comes to wine.
Meiburg added that as the conference becames a more established event in the Hong Kong calendar, the seminars can evolve to better reflect what the companies sending their staff to it wish them to learn.
The programme is only open to members of the trade, with membership ranging from student to corporate.
A more detailed look at the issue of staff training in Hong Kong will appear in the next edition of the drinks business Hong Kong and a future issue of the drinks business.