ASPIRA BRANDS STRIKE GOLD TWICE IN CHINA
CWSA Awards SunterraTM a Gold and Double Gold Medal
Hong Kong – In a newly renovated office near the bustling ports of Hong Kong sits the Chief Operating Officer of Aspira Brands, Bong Ha. Ha has just wrapped up a Skype call with California based Chief Executive Officer John Kochis and he is smiling—with good reason: The China Wine & Spirits Awards, one of the biggest and most prestigious wine and spirits competition in China, has conferred a Gold and Double Gold Medal on this young wine company’s inaugural release, SunterraTM. “We are thrilled with the recognition Aspira is receiving,” states Ha. “Our focus has been to over-deliver on our product, price, and packaging and based on these awards, people are beginning to take notice.” China continues to be a main focus for Aspira, and Ha explains that while the U.S. may rank number six in import market share, the growth potential is massive. “With the emerging middle class and affinity for Western goods, we are well positioned for the future,” Ha explains.
Aspira may be a new wine company but Mr. Kochis and Mr. Ha bring over 40 years of combined industry experience working for two of the largest and most respected international wine companies, E&J Gallo Winery and Constellation. Formed 16 months ago, Aspira has made quick strides in a market known for its barriers to entry with several thousand cases of Sunterra leaving port last August heading to distributors in Shanghai and Xiamen. They have since added Shenzhen (with a new brand, ElementumTM) and formed an alliance with publicly traded importer, wholesaler, and retailer, 1919 Wines & Spirits. “Having a partner like 1919 is an incredible honor for us,” says Kochis. “They have extremely high standards and work with only top global suppliers. They have over 90 outlets in China in addition to a significant online presence…their growth plans are as aggressive as ours.”
With roots firmly planted in Chinese soil, Aspira plans to enter both Canada and the EU this year. “Our model is unique, we build innovative brands through research and market expertise but we also rely on our customers,” Kochis explains. “Each foreign market presents a challenge so we listen closely, adapt accordingly, and move quickly.” Last June a potential distributor asked if Aspira would consider developing a wine under SunterraTM that would appeal to a new generation of consumers, the company had 3000 cases on the water within 90 days. “That is now our top selling wine and one of our gold medalists,” Kochis states. Common sense, listening to the market, and building brand value seem to be working for this up-and-coming wine company.