Wine is one of those beverages enjoyed with friends, over a meal, or after having a long day.
David Pedrol, founder and CEO of WineToBe, refers to wine “as the only art you can taste”. As well as being a certified educator, teaching wine in several countries and at different levels, including in Indonesia, he welcomes wine connoisseurs to learn more and relish the varieties of wine produced internationally and locally. Indonesia Expat chatted with David, sharing his journey in the wine industry for the past 20 years.
Hi, David! Tell us about yourself.
I’m a proud father of two. Coming from a wine-growing region south of Barcelona in Spain, I’ve been developing my career for the last 20 years in the wine industry worldwide.
I have a rich experience and solid educational background in wine, a degree in business administration and finance and a Master’s in international commerce. I specialise in wine from different factors of the industry, with some harvest on my record and several vilification seasons in top companies. I majored in wine tasting and commerce of wine at the London Wine Institute and ended up taking the educators program to teach wine in several countries and at a range of levels.
I’ve developed business in several countries in Europe and America. Over 15 years ago, I took my first steps into Asia. After years of success in Asia selling in the traditional channels, I ventured into a small project of Yesmywine. With my wine expertise and management skills, we have seen the fastest growing wine business in China with Yesmywine; over 9 million members and an average of 35,000 bottles are sold each day.
In June 2013, this company was chosen as the world’s number one B2C e-commerce platform for selling wine. Furthermore, culminating this fantastic year, I’ve ranked the 27th position in the Decanter Top 50 Power list in the magazine.
Currently, I’m building the first multi-country e-commerce platform for wine in Southeast Asia called WineToBe and also serve as a board member and advisor to companies in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and several wineries in Europe.
What drew you to wine in the first place?
My first opportunity to work with wine was in the vineyards when I was 13-years-old, collecting grapes. My passion definitely didn’t grow from there; it was a very hard job to do! It was a nice way to make some money over the summer to help cover my expenses while being a student.
I believe my passion started once I moved to work in the winery torres, also in the summertime, to produce wines for few years. After graduating in business administration, I joined the same company full-time in the export department. I had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented people in the industry and learned a lot about wine and international business.
You consider yourself a wine expert. What exactly determines someone as a wine expert?
Yes, I think I am a bit of an expert. I’ve been training for it. I have a master in viticulture and ecology, and I’ve reached the highest level on the Wine and Spirits Education trust. I am currently a certified educator and I manage several schools in Asia with the latest one opened in Indonesia.
Explain the intricacies of wine.
I like to refer to wine as the only art you can taste. I love this sentence. I believe it’s a very intellectual drink that has been produced for thousands of years and we can have many different versions. I don’t like to be snobbish about wine, I like to share and enjoy with friends regardless of their knowledge or background. Wine is always surrounded by good moments, great food, and incredible friends.
You’re an executive, majored in wine tasting and the commerce of wine. How does this work?
Yes, I specialised in business administration and then did a Master’s in international commerce. Nowadays, I run a completely different range of studies, just focussing on wine. I think it’s a good and interesting combination that allows me to manage a company from a business perspective and knowledge about wine.
WineToBe is a multi-country business for wine with offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Indonesia. We directly source wines from the best producers and try to bring them to each market at the best possible prices. We also specialise in e-commerce directly to consumers with our latest addition of www.godrinks.com, Indonesia’s market is already starting to give some interesting results.
In your opinion, how do you find Indonesian-produced wine?
I think it’s interesting, like all wine produced, it has a lot of effort and a great and dedicated human team behind it. Unfortunately, like other tropical countries like Thailand or Vietnam, Indonesia lacks the typical four seasons occurring in traditional wine countries to produce enough quality grapes to make excellent wines. Even so, I insist the work done here deserves all my respect and appreciation.
You teach many students in wine school. What’s it called? What goes down in wine school?
The school is called WSET, or Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and we are a franchise of the London wine school. We can provide full certification to our students after they complete the course and pass the exams. We trained over 100 students last year and we support the course fees to help the industry to grow so we’ll all benefit in few years, seeing better wines and selections in the trade and outlets.
The ongoing courses now are level 1 and 2. Both are very practical and enjoyable. I encourage anyone who loves wine to come and join us to improve their knowledge and spend some good time tasting wines from all over the world.
Based on your extensive experience in the wine industry, what should our readers look out for when they buy a bottle of wine?
I’ll always be looking for a wine that fits better at the moment it’s going to get drunk. Particularly, if it is going to be shared with food.
Especially in Indonesia’s hot and humid weather, I’d suggest something that’s refreshing like a light white or sparkling wine. Even now, we sell a lot of rosé wine which has become very popular. I’ll always be looking for great value for money from places like Spain or the new world like Chile or Australia. Then, if I like to spend a bit more, I’ll go to some prestigious areas like Champagne, Burgundy, or Bordeaux as my favourites.
Mention a fun fact about yourself.
I think life is fun and we always need to take it all with a smile! I like to joke with friends and be casual and relaxed.
Where can our readers get in touch with you and WineToBe?