Mon, Jan 26, 2009 - Page 6 News List

FEATURE : Movie boosts local wine industry

By Amy Yang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A man holds a bottle of Malasun millet wine produced by Shin-Yi Hsiang Farmers’ Association winery. The wine became a household name after the success of the movie Cape No. 7 last year.

PHOTO: CHEN HSIN-JEN, TAIPEI TIMES

Cape No. 7 (海角七號), the movie which became a smash hit last year, has not only helped revive the domestic film industry, but also boosted the popularity of wines produced by local wineries.

The most noticeable example of this is a millet wine featured in the film, named Malasun (馬拉桑), which has become a household name after the movie’s overwhelming success.

The word malasun means “getting drunk” in the Aboriginal Amis language.

Prior to the movie’s release, Chang Sheng-cheng (張勝正), the manager of Shin-Yi Winery (信義酒莊), run by the Shin-Yi Hsiang Farmers’ Association (信義鄉農會) in Nantou County, said the winery had been plagued by falling sales after damage caused by Typhoon Sinlaku last year and a downturn in consumer spending amid the global economic slowdown.

“I was originally thinking that I’d be pretty content if the winery’s sales could reach NT$80 million [US$2.4 million] for the whole year [in 2008], or at least remain at the same level as in 2007,” Chang said.

While looking for ways to boost sales, Chang said he happened to hear that director Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖) was planning to make a movie but was having a hard time finding a winery to sponsor a local millet wine mentioned in the script.

On hearing the news, Chang said the winery immediately donated more than NT$1 million to help with the making of the film.

With Cape No. 7 breaking box office records in Taiwan, the movie’s Malasun millet wine also began to grab media attention and has been flying off the shelves since the product’s launch.

Its success helped turn the winery’s flagging sales around, with sales surging to NT$120 million last year, up by 50 percent from a year ago.

Aside from the local market, Chang said Shin-Yi Winery had also received orders for two containers, or around 40,000 bottles of Malasun, from a distributor in Xiamen in China’s Fujian Province.

The price for a 500ml bottle of Malasun is 320 yuan (US$47) in China, four times higher than that in Taiwan, Chang said.

In light of Shin-Yi Winery’s success, farm wineries in other towns have also sought to collaborate with home-delivery service provider Taiwan Pelican Express Co (台灣宅配通) and convenience store operator Hi-Life International Co (萊爾富) to provide pre-order delivery services in a bid to increase their sales and product visibility.

Located in the famed strawberry-growing region of Dahu Township in Miaoli County, the Da Hu Wineland Resort (大湖酒莊) produces strawberry wine and other fruit wines, which are popular among female customers, selling around 70,000 bottles a year.

Another wine that has recently begun to gain in popularity is a rose wine produced by Puli Farmers’ Association’s (埔里鎮農會) distillery in Nantou County.

The wine grabbed the media’s attention because it was served at the wedding banquet of Taiwan’s richest man, Terry Gou (郭台銘), last year, when he married Delia Tseng (曾馨瑩), who comes from Nantou.

Gou is the chairman of Taiwan’s electronics conglomerate Hon Hai Group (鴻海集團).

Shu Sheug Domaine (樹生休閒酒莊), in Waipu Township (外埔鄉), Taichung County, was originally a grape farm that was transformed into a winery, and now produces red wine as good as some produced in France.

Domaine, which means “estate” in French, is a term commonly used in Burgundy that refers to a property where vines are grown and wines are produced.

The owner, Hung Chi-pei (洪吉倍), said Shu Sheug Domaine has produced between 60,000 liters and 70,000 liters of red wine annually since its inception in 2003.

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