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Napa Valley charm leads to wine business

Two best friends, one trip to Napa wine country, and the experience that will change both their lives forever ….  This is an all-too-familiar tale it seems, but I am not referring to the 2004 movie Sideways that catapulted the popularity of Pinot Noir in the States. This instead is an earnest starting point story of two young business women and their foray into the local wine trade via a newly formed partnership company called 8487 Trading Bar Inc..

Schoolmates and business partners 

Napa Valley charm leads  to wine business The two best friends are Bianca Tumibay and Nicole Keys, both proud La Sallians. The Napa trip actually happened in September 2011. The company name came from their birth years: Bianca being born in 1984, and Nicole in 1987. The company logo is smartly in the form of a barcode, and if you actually scan this barcode, the numbers 8487 will actually come out.  While the Napa trip may have inspired the venture into a wine import and distribution company, both Bianca and Nicole had very good training grounds from their respective family businesses – incidentally both involved in the field of logistics. Bianca worked for five years with her mom, at their forwarding firm, Ableglobal Logistics Philippines, with extensive background on importation, inbound shipping, and logistics. Nicole on the other hand got her experience while managing their Fed Ex chain in Pampanga, the international courier company. With logistics being some sort of their forte, the next natural step was to find the right product to import, and start a trading business.

The Napa Valley trip 

The US trip was planned by the two friends with some companions. The side trip to the Californian wine country was part of the agenda, as Nicole’s uncle, Raul Gopez is the administration manager of Stonehedge Winery in Napa Valley. Stonehedge Winery was founded in the early 1990s by the Shahabi Brothers, and has, from the start, build quite a good reputation for its exceptional value-for-money crafted wines. While at the winery, the entourage went for wine tasting, and that got the two friends hooked. How can one really resist the “magic” of tasting good wines in the backdrop of the picturesque Napa Valley vineyards? It was not also surprising to me that it was the deliciously succulent Stonehedge Terroir Select Muscat Canelli (another name of the now becoming mainstream sweet Moscato varietal) that convinced the two young women that they want this specific wine and other Stonehedge wines in Manila. And that was how 8487 Trading Bar got its first wine brand in their portfolio.

Wine dinner at Cova

Napa Valley charm leads  to wine business I had a chance to try some of the Stonehedge wines when I was invited to a wine dinner at the very modish Cova Tapas y Sangria Spanish restaurant along Jupiter Street in Bel-air, Makati. The wine dinner paired the sumptuous menu of young creative chef and co-owner Patrick Hess with different Stonehedge wines.   Here are my customary tasting notes: Stonehedge California Sauvignon Blanc 2010 - `nice fresh peach nose, light and herbaceous, crisp acid with lovely flinty notes at the end; a nice elegant style Sauvignon Blanc’ Stonehedge Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay 2009 - `creamy, green apple, butterscotch, dry and with a heartier mid palate weight; a too typical oaked Napa Style Chardonnay’ Stonehedge Terroir Select Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 2008 - `plum, red currant, lots of ripe fruits, violets, vivacious acids, still quite fresh despite its 2008 vintage, and with a round flavorful finish; not quite Burgundy nor Oregon, but a real enjoyable fruit forward Pinot to feast on’   Stonehedge Reserve Napa Valley Merlot 2009 - `licorice, blackberry, spicy, choco-mint, complex with various notes from leather to cigar, herbaceous on the palate, with long and rich berry notes at the end; I am not a big Merlot fan, but this was my favorite wine of the evening’ Stonehedge Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 - `fragrant, cassis, strawberry flambé, full bodied, still a bit heady with strong tannic structure, and some racy acids at the end; this is a good Cabernet Sauvignon that will probably drink better after a few more years of graceful cellaring’ Stonehedge Terroir Select Napa County Muscat Canelli 2009 - `lusciously tempting nose of longan, peach marmalade and honey, velvety texture with good acid backbone, very sweet but not cloying, and long, deep and gummy like finish’ While the Philippine wine industry is dominated by California wines, with its 35%+ share of total wine import volume,  sadly 99% of these wines are generic entry level wines composed of the undisputed leader Carlo Rossi, Franzia (known for its box wines), Paul Masson (known for its carafes), etc.. It would definitely be great for the local wine industry and California wines in general to see 8487 Trading Bar succeed in pushing the more premium California wines, especially the ones with the New World’s arguably most popular appellation, NAPA, in its label. Good luck girls! Fresh young bloods are here to spice up this industry. Aside from Stonehedge Winery of California, 8487 Trading Bar has also added a Spanish portfolio, composed of still wines, including organic wines and even a liqueur called Licor 43. For queries and other information on Stonehedge wines, please contact 8487 Trading Bar at (02) 8362454. For comments, inquiries, wine event coverage, wine consultancy and other wine related concerns, please e-mail me at [email protected] I am a proud member of the Federation Internationale des Journalists et Ecrivains du Vin et des Spiritueux or FIJEV since 2010. You can also follow me on twitter at
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