Lo­cal win­ery goes from strength to strength

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Jes­sica Mud­ditt

Hans-Ed­uard Leien­decker’s in­ter­est in pro­duc­ing wine dates back to his child­hood, as his par­ents owned a small win­ery in western Ger­many. “I grew up not with milk, but with wine,” he told Mizzima Weekly with a laugh.

Mr Leien­decker went on to study at one of the world’s old­est wine schools, Geisen­heim Univer­sity, be­fore spend­ing 16 years at one of Ger­many’s most highly re­spected winer­ies and won four awards for ex­cel­lence.

How­ever when Mr Leien­decker saw an ad­ver­tise­ment in a mag- azine to be­come the di­rec­tor of tech­ni­cal oper­a­tions at Myan­mar’s first win­ery in 2006, he leapt at the chance to take on a new chal­lenge.

Aythaya was founded in 1998 by a Ger­man wine­maker called Bert Mos­bach, whose per­sis­tence at wine­mak­ing in Myan­mar even­tu­ally paid off. He first started do­ing busi­ness in Myan­mar in 1989, but turned to vines af­ter his bas­mati rice farm was con­fis­cated by a govxx ern­men­txx min­is­ter. Fol­low­ing tri­als on no less than 10,000 vines that had been im­ported from France, Myan­mar 1st Vine­yard Es­tate made its de­but with its Aythaya la­bel in 2004.

Aythaya Win­ery in Shan State is lo­cated 25 kilo­me­tres away from the tourist hot spot of Inle Lake and is a 15 minute drive to the bustling state cap­i­tal of Taunggyi. With an el­e­va­tion of 1,200 me­tres, the tem­per­a­tures are re­fresh­ingly cool and the scenery noth­ing short of spec­tac­u­lar.

The num­ber of visi­tors ar­riv­ing at the win­ery, which also has a res­tau­rant and three state-of-the-art bun­ga­lows at Monte Divino Lodge, has been dou­bling year on year – with as many as 300 peo­ple pass­ing through each day dur­ing the peak of the tourist sea­son.

Ac­cord­ing to his Kalaw-born

wife, Naw Ei Ei Brown, who is Aythaya’s Res­tau­rant Ad­min­is­tra­tion Man­ager, in the last fi­nan­cial year the win­ery re­ceived 23,000 visi­tors, which was up from 11,000 in the 2013-14 fi­nan­cial year.

The res­tau­rant area is ex­pand­ing and a café is in the process of be­ing built. A sec­ond bar will open in Septem­ber.

Aythaya has sev­eral things go­ing for it. It is one of only two winer­ies in Myan­mar and im­ported wine has been a rar­ity since a gov­ern­ment crack-down two years ago that led to su­per­mar­ket shelves be­ing emp­tied and the stocks of dis­trib­u­tors con­fis­cated. Although the green light was given to im­port wine at the be­gin­ning of this year, it is clear that most re­tail­ers re­main hes­i­tant to do so.

How­ever the fact that Aythaya has a near mo­nop­oly on wine con­sump­tion at present in Myan­mar “doesn’t mat­ter,” says Mr Leien­decker.

“Let’s take a look at wine con­sump­tion around the world. In Ger­many, it’s 30 bot­tles per head a year. In France it is 70 and in Italy it’s 90 bot­tles. You know how much it is in Myan­mar? A tenth of a glass. Even if that fig­ure were to rise to a full glass, it would still be noth­ing. The op­por­tu­nity here is huge,” he said

Mr Leien­decker added that due to the higher cur­rent tax regime of 50 per­cent com­mer­cial tax plus 30 per­cent in im­port du­ties, the cheap­est im­ported wines would be priced at around $12. In the past, wine bot­tle prices were as low as $6.

“Im­ported bot­tles of wine


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