Altruistic Boutique Wines

Aug 07, 2010 6 Comments by

I previously wanted to entitle this article: Altruistic Wines: From Investment Banking to Wine Trading. Actually, Rai, who I met for this interview, used to work for Lehman Brothers in NYC and Hong Kong before founding Altruistic Consulting Group, the parent company of Altruistic Boutique Wines, 1 year ago. As I myself, used to work in Investment Banking, I found that interesting to focus on this point. But, that is something I still had to learn. You never pick the title of your article before the interview. Altruistic Boutique Wine is not just the story of an investment banker who founded his wine business by passion. From what I understood there is more than one person involved. Vineyard owners, wine makers, international chefs, even charitable organizations, they all play their role in the story.

I had the chance to meet Rai in Vinexpo and to interview him in the Grand Hyatt café which is interconnected with the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre where Vinexpo Asia took place. And guess what? None of us took a glass of wine. Not so surprising after a day spent tasting different wines. Vinexpo…

Zhongguo Wine: So Ray, can you explain to us what your job is? Why are you here at Vinexpo?

Raiford C. Cockfield III: Absolutely, my job is managing director of Altruistic Boutique Wines which is an importation company that brings wine from all over the world. We focus on low volume and high quality wines. I am at Vinexpo today essentially to meet producers with whom we already work and to collect as much information.

ZW: Are you looking for new partners?

RC: Not really. I am here to gather information and to taste wine more than to add vineyards to my list.

ZW: What is your business model?

RC: We have three core businesses: Firstly, we are establishing an American wine club in Asia. The idea is that you pay a fee for the year to Altruistic depending on how many wines you want to receive a month (4, 8 or 12) and the price category (Gold, Platinum or Diamond). Then, we send you every month different bottles. We are aware that taste is different from one person to another so we take care of selecting wines that match your taste.

Secondly, we are an import company that sells wine to restaurants and hotels that have the same philosophy regarding wine tasting and wine pairing. We want the sommelier to be able to explain to the final consumer, not only with which kind of food goes this or that wine but also what is the story behind a specific wine.

Finally, we are an event company. We have just organized the first US boutique wines festival (April 23-24). We brought 3 celebrity chefs from the US to pair our wine with good food. Our focus is on education during these events more than selling our wine at all cost.

We are thinking about developing a touring event in the vineyards. But it is still only a project.

ZW: How many producers are you representing today?

RC: 44. They all are from the US. We are planning to work with German, Italian, Spanish and Canadian brands. Our aim is to get to 20 to 30 wines in each area.

ZW: To which extent is education important for you in to sell wine in China?

RC: Education is the key. Some argue that we are going to a market where people do not care and just want to drink. Wealthiest people want to have the most expensive wines on their table to impress. But this is not only China. All over the world, wealthiest people tend to buy wine for the image and for the price more than for anything else. On the other hand, you have more and more younger people eager to learn about wine. If you give them the resources to learn, these people are really able to take over. We have to consider that, so far, Chinese people have been receiving information in a second language. And I am impressed by their capacity to assimilate information so quickly in a language that is not Chinese, most of the time English, but also French, Spanish or Italian. That tells you something about Chinese tenacity and their willing to learn. I think China is going to catch up quickly. And this is going to be interesting to see how they are handling their domestic production as well. I think eventually very nice wines will come out from China. I think this is a matter of time.

ZW: How is Altruistic driven towards education in the everyday business life?

RC: The focus is all about education. During our events, we are not here to sell our wines but to educate the consumer. We don’t care if you don’t like our wine. We won’t sell you wine because we need to make profit. We want to sell our wine where it is the most needed. As we are focusing on small production wines, we know that we will not have to worry to sell our wine either in Singapore, in Japan or in China. Our website will also be an information website first and foremost, not a mere merchant website. And we want it to be in different languages to attract a maximum of people.

We focus on education because I strongly believe that you need to be educated about a wine to truly appreciate it. Wine is really similar to Art actually. If you go to an art exhibition with the artist explaining his mindset about his work, you truly become aware of the masterpiece and you can see through the artist’s eyes. This is the same with wine. What we try to do in China is to bring owners and wine makers to China so that they can explain their own history and their mindset in creating their wine to the Chinese audience. This is truly high end education. And we believe in that.

Ari for Zhongguo Wine

More info on

See other interviews:

Interview with Gwenaële Chesnais, Senior Wine Education Manager, Pernod-Ricard China

Interview with Stephane Toutoundji, famous winemaking consultant

Interview with Yann Soenen, Regional Director for Champagnes Mumm and Perrier Jouët

Interview with Nicolas Touchard, Brand Ambassador for M. Chapoutier

Interview with Rai Cockfield, Managing Director of Altruistic Boutique Wines

Interview with PENG Jia, Director of the World Wine Education in Shanghai

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6 Responses to “Altruistic Boutique Wines”

  1. Jamie Elofson says:

    i would say red wine.

  2. Ashley says:

    hey, nice blog…really like it and added to bookmarks. keep up with good work

  3. Vinexpo Asia 2010 says:

    […] had been planned for weeks. But we managed to get a Press Pass and two interviews. One with Raiford C. Cockfield III, one of the two directors of Altruitic Boutique Wines and one with Nicolas Touchard, brand ambassador for M.Chapoutier in […]

  4. Making Wine for the Chinese market says:

    […] Interview with Rai Cockfield, Managing Director of Altruistic Boutique Wines […]

  5. Pernod Ricard China | Zhongguo Wine says:

    […] Interview with Rai Cockfield, Managing Director of Altruistic Boutique Wines […]

  6. Maison M. Chapoutier | Zhongguo Wine says:

    […] Interview with Rai Cockfield, Managing Director of Altruistic Boutique Wines […]

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