#Wine Makes a Difference – a change of events

Could there be any better way to do a good deed than through a glass of wine? I don’t think there is and I’m sure many would agree it sounds like a much more enjoyable alternative than running a marathon in a silly suit.

Back in December, I attended an entrepreneur’s group on the theme of philanthropy, asking the question ‘how can we give back to society through our business activity?’ A few months earlier I’d organized a wine party for friends who weren’t able to attend one of my events using the bottles left over from the producers. I’d lined up over a dozen bottles, provided some food to keep us reasonably sober and talked them through what we were drinking. At the end of the night, everyone went home full, happy and having learnt something more about wine – without having spent a penny. That got me thinking… An evening of eating and drinking in the company of like-minded company is something people are more than happy to pay for so, why not use these events to do some good?

About the same time, I read a post in a Facebook group from Carrie Forster. She told her tragic story of how her daughter was diagnosed with a rare, life-limiting disease about the time my own daughter was born. Begging readers not to shed tears (an impossible request), she wrote of how she was organizing to bring Christmas cheer to the families who would be spending that day in the Palliative ward of one of Munich’s main hospitals and how she planned to organize events to help the families of these children. I dropped her a line, we met and she told me about her family’s experience of dealing with her daughter’s disease and consequent needs. Her strength and determination to do something to help families in a similar situation as hers bowled me over and we started talking about what we could do together.

Through her newly established charity, The Sticky Fingers Family Association, she aims to create activities that foster relationships between these families so that they can help and support each other on this journey. Many organisations exist already to help fund research into curing these diseases or provide kids with unforgettable trips but none support the families that are by their sides during their illness. Her planned activities include fun family days out, events for the parents to give them some valuable of me-time (almost impossible even with children that don’t require round-the-clock care, I know!) and informative workshops on aspects that can improve the quality of life of these children.

I told her about my wine party and we quickly decided to pen in a date for a summer garden party along the same lines. Luckily the sun shone for us that day. With 15 different wines – some left over from events, others kindly donated by friend wine producers – and some delicious food sponsored by Florian of Flo and Co, a sticky fingers board member, it was a food and wine lovers delight. Besides an open wine bar, we also held a charity auction for some special bottles from my cellar. The event was a great success raising over 2,500 euro. On 28th February 2019, World Rare Diseases Day, I’ll help Carrie to organize something special, so this is just the start!

For charities further afield, I also chose to work with the German chapter of Simply Smiles, a charity dedicated to giving brighter futures to the children of Oaxaca, one of the poorest regions of Mexico. Their founder and I met when our children attended the same nursery and quickly became friends. I mentioned to her that I wanted to put the wines that I had to good use, respect the passion and dedication that the producers invest in creating them, and allow them to be enjoyed whilst they were still at their best. On 6th July I hosted a charity wine bar as part of their annual fund-raising event that raised over 1,000 euro towards the construction of a new children’s home in Mexico.


After these events, I’m happy to say that my cellar is empty and my heart is full. There’s nothing more fulfilling than using the privileged position I find myself in to make a difference to people’s lives – without having to run a marathon in a silly suit…

If you would like to support any of my fund-raising events, please contact me on faye@fayecardwell.com

If you would like to hear about more of my events, including future fund-raising ones, sign up to my mailing list. 

Wine 2 Wine

It was a cold evening in January 2014 in Munich when Marc Roisin and I closed the doors on the second, and what would be the last, edition of the Wine Business Innovation Summit: an event that brought together wine producers, distributors, bloggers, innovators and entrepreneurs in a cosy setting to network and exchange ideas on the future of the wine business. WBIS had started attracting attention – notably that of Stevie Kim, managing director of Vinitaly International.

For us, lack of sponsorship – and time – signed the end, but it was the start of something else. Later that same year Wine2Wine was launched in Verona bringing together – on a much larger scale – wine producers, entrepreneurs, influencers, press and to listen to discussions on issues that are changing our business.

Three years later and I finally made it to Verona for the fourth edition. A new format: 30 minute sessions within one larger theme, reduced time lost between sessions and allowed efficient speakers to really shine. Institutional moments, speaker’s corner sessions (similar to Vinocamp), ensured there was a good balance between the politics and the community.

Felicity Carter gave a very concise presentation about how the problems linked to concentrated city tourism is forcing a need for out of town attractions and how wine can answer that. Examples of cooperation between wineries and local businesses and services were reminiscent of the ambitious and unfortunately failed project of Illasi Valleys I was involved in many years ago. Proof that finding the right people to lead them is as important as finding the people to share the idea.

Millenials were, as always, the hot topic – a segment of the population that now accounts for 40% of sales in the US, this generation of personalized, unique experiences that they can rave about – and don’t have to think too much about.

Robert Joseph, the “Wine Thinker” gave a thoroughly entertaining presentation on the morning of day 2 – complete with explosion sounds effects – expressing elements that he sees are likely to change in the wine business including product formats, distribution channels and appellations. Bring in cans, blends, shopping direct from phones and the business looks a lot different form the traditional wine shop. There was also talk of how Australian wineries have cottoned on to putting wines in boxes to facilitate the Chinese gift-giving custom – much like traditional Champagne houses. I’d love to see more Amarone’s in boxes – especially at Christmas.

Sarah Abbott, passionate pro-European, gave a very reassuring seminar on the Brexit situation opening with a quip “we need a drink more than ever!”. A topic that has left the UK beyond divided, her message was that the UK wine and spirits trade association WSTA, is working diligently with high-profile figures in the wine business, politicians and law-makers, to ensure that the industry will continue to get a good deal. The government’s recent move to freeze taxes on alcohol, the first in many years, was an indication of the acknowledgment of the trade’s importance. What will happen by March 2019, no-one knows but it won’t be left to chance.

The sessions and lessons on China proved more food for thought. Ian Ford, founder of the Chinese importer Summergate gave his session on where the Italians are going wrong – adaptable lessons for many markets. His main message was “get out of your comfort zone” and understand that the Chinese are a different population with different customs and cultures, and work with them.

Excellent organisation, time-keeping, availability of presentations after the event : anyone would think this was more Prowein than Vinitaly. Two packed days of different perspectives and know-how, not to mention networking left me a lot to consider. One thing I’m sure of though – I’ll be back to Wine 2 Wine in 2018….






6th March – Piedmont – Tradition Today….

Sixth March 2017 will mark not only my 4th Anniversary of living in Munich, but also my first full trade event in my new hometown.

Das Piemont: Tradition im Heute

Ten wineries, most of which are not available yet on the German market, will come to Eataly for a walk-around tasting as well as two seminars highlighting the prestigious appellations Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero.

The walk-around tasting will include not only more than 20 Barolo and Barbaresco wines, traditional Vermouths, the rediscovered King of Piedmont white wine Nascetta, smooth Barberas from 2009 to the latest vintage and great value for money Roeros.

The wineries include : Alessandro Rivetti, Bava, Cantine Stroppiana, Giacomo Vico, Giulio Cocchi Spumanti, Malabaila di Canale, Michele Taliano, Veglio Michelino & Figli, Vigneti Luigi Oddero & Figli.

Programme for the day:

Press and trade tasting from 2pm to 5pm


2pm Barolo V Barbaresco

4pm Classic & Aged wines

More info and tickets can be found on: Eventbrite 



Challenges for Wine in Brazil – interview with a winelover and Sommelier

We’re almost a quarter of the way through 2014 already and after a mild winter, this summers World Cup in Brazil is sure to bring even more sunshine to this year. Whilst I might not be following the footie, I’m gearing up for another trip to the land of Samba in April as I take a group of wineries from Montalcino in Tuscany for their second participation at South America’s most important wine fair, Expovinis.

Traditionally a beer drinking country, over the past few years Brazil has increased its consumption (and production) of wine considerably and with a huge part of the population now with money in their pockets and starting to travel abroad regularly, consumers are acquiring the taste for wine. Add to that a huge proportion of the population in Sao Paulo and the south of the country (which is industrialised and relatively rich) is of Italian origin and you have an interesting wine market in the making, especially for wines of the Bel Paese. In fact a report by Rabobank last year indicated Brazil amongst the 4 top interesting wine markets for the future, the others being Mexico, Poland and Nigeria.

Vanda Brazilian wine bloggerOn a recent trip to Sao Paulo, I caught up with friend and Brazilian wine blogger Vanda Menegucci (see her site Vinhos Amores e Taças de uma Forma Descomplicada) in Bardega, one of the hottest wine bars in town, to ask her more about the Brazilian market.

Vanda, tell us about the Brazilian consumer:

The Brazilian people in general are great connoisseurs of beers. Wine consumers however are the people who like international trips or enjoy fine-dining are also often descendants of immigrants from Italy and German that have the culture of wine.

Today Brazil is very large and varied. I think that the wine producers are attracted to Brazil as nowadays Brazil is enjoying a period of prosperity and all the large multinational companies look at Brazil with a different perspective and understand the potential that the country has.

Today the Brazilian wine market is quite interesting: there are many opportunities for growth although there is a certain embarrassment on the part of the consumers to chose a particular wine. I think that today the Brazilian consumer must learn to eliminate the complication surrounding wine. Whether you’re an expert, a sommelier, a consumer or someone who works in the sector, you learn by un-learning. Promotions tend to add mystery and complications to wine when wine should be a drink as simple as beer. People arrive at a bar and ask for a beer without insecurity or fears surrounding what they are asking for. This is how wine must be but we have a long way to go before consumers feel confortable to say simply, I like this sort of wine or this grape variety even if it’s the cheapest on the wine list.

Domestic producers are improving the standards of winemaking, participating at international competitions and attracting a lot of interest. Brazilian wine producers are investing in state of the art technology so that they can then compete with wine producers from Europe and the USA.

Tell us about your passion for wine

I always liked drinking wine, I started looking at the difference between wines when I started working with a wine importer and translating the technical sheets. The importer would buy wine from other countries so I would get the technical sheets in the original language or many times even in English.

Needing to do presentations with sommeliers and people in the on-trade, I needed to translate the wine list and that is where I started getting curious about wine. So that’s why I became more interested in wines and how they were made, their characteristics and peculiarities so I thought to myself that I ought to study a professional diploma in wine tasting.

Effectively, the professional side then fed the passion for wine. When you choose an industry to work in and when you are able to accumulate cultural baggage related to that sector, you will go further. You have to specialize to be able to talk with authority on the subject.

Now it’s really difficult for me to say I prefer this grape or that grape because you get to learn about so many things doing such a course, it opens your mind and palate to a range of tastes.

Tell us about your blog that you launched last year:

The blog is in reality a place where I can share my thoughts on wines and I think that it serves to show that any person can become knowledgeable about wine, either by working for an importer, for the commercial side of a winery or in a bar.

Wine is a drink that is so appreciated that I think that the aim of the blog is to communicate my experiences and try to demystify wine from being a drink that is expensive, complicated and difficult to understand to being something that one can develop a passion for.

What advice would you give to foreign wine producers looking to enter the Brazilian market?  

I advise them to find serious importers and contacts with associations and wine schools as the people in the sector are involved in these sorts of associations. You should use these as a way of attacking the market.

Also if you want to make headway on this market, you must understand the style of the Brazilian consumer as well as the culture and the local taste for wine.

Me & Vanda Bardega

In April 2014, 13 producers of Brunello di Montalcino will participate at Expovinis (stand F035) and will host a wine-makers dinner, a wine-tasting seminar and an event with sommeliers and wine lovers.