Hong Kong’s claim to be a world-class city is only underscored by the vision, passion and ‘will-do’ attitude of visionaries like DOMONAL YEUNG, Founder & CEO of GDV FINE WINES®.

“Wine is not just an object of pleasure but an object of knowledge; and the pleasure depends on the knowledge,” said Rogers Scruton. These words seem to also embody the sojourn of Domonal Yeung, Founder & CEO of GDV Fine Wines® – a true wine lover brand committed to sourcing and supplying the world’s most exquisite wines to Hong Kong’s discerning connoisseurs. 

Yeung’s tryst with the drink of the Gods began 25 years back, in England. The harmonious cohesion of aromas and flavours between the 1989 Chateau La Lagune from Bordeaux and Linguine Carbonara triggered an instant love affair that resulted in trips to renowned wineries in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Piemonte, Verona… etc, to interview winemakers and learn of their unique methods and principles. Additionally, he experienced ‘vine training’ under the scorching summer sun, which was an eye-opening and memorable ordeal encouraging him to up-skill by taking courses and earning the coveted WSET Level 3 Certificate.

“When I returned to Hong Kong, I noticed the huge potential of Hong Kong’s wine market. The public then had little knowledge of wines and limited choices, thus I set out to bridge the gap between the elitist culture of fine wines and the general public by bringing in a variety of wines from around the world and making them accessible to a wider audience. In July 1997, after years of laborious preparation, I began my entrepreneurship and opened the first shop Gallerie du Vin, and now widely known as GDV Fine Wines®. We are now a fully established wine retailer, wine importer and distributor.” 

Rising to Challenge

Yeung explains: “We opened our first shop now widely known as GDV Fine Wines® in Wanchai on July 1st, 1997, a rather historically significant day for Hong Kong. Apart from being a retailer, we also work directly with chateaux for wine importing and distribution. Looking back, we are able to define 3 periods in which Hong Kong’s wine market underwent massive change. 1997-2007, was a period of slow and steady growth as importers enjoyed exclusive import rights, the high import tax and complicated procedures on alcoholic beverages set entry barriers to the amateurs.”

“2008-2011 was a brief yet hugely impactful period. In 2008, the government implemented new policies to promote Hong Kong as Asia Wine Hub, which included the complete removal of wine duties and the duty-related administration. As a result, the number of wine importers skyrocketed as many individuals started importing wine for reselling. The thriving economy meant that demand also catapulted, especially from Mainland China and for expensive fine wines. During this period of prosperity, we upheld our doctrine and kept focusing on serving Hong Kong customers. The number of GDV members exceeded 10,000 in 2010.

Staring from 2012 onwards was a period of regression, as Hong Kong’s market for wines slowly saturated, and the aggregate economic growth began slowing down. Aggressive pricing due to fierce competition undercut profit margins and forced less experienced retailers, traders and online resellers out of the scene. Thanks to support from loyal customers and suppliers, GDV is now devoting more efforts to developing platforms to boost customer satisfaction.”

Domonal Yeung with Mr. Charles Chevallier, Managing Director of Château Lafite Rothschild.

Domonal Yeung with Mr. André Lurton, the infamous owner of Château La Louvière.

Bringing in the Best

GDV offers thousands of wine labels from around the globe seldom found in some shops, including distinguished fine labels, En Primeur, exotic boutique wines, spirits, whiskies, brandies, and sakes.

“Additionally, we shelf premium accessories such as branded wine glasses and exclusive aroma kits. Our direct working relationship with chateaux and wineries enable us to have our wines available directly from their cellars, wine lovers can access to this excellent ex-cellar condition and quality wines with us. Our trained team of professional wine consultants offer expert knowledge, recommendations and personal opinions, so customers can enjoy wines whilst learning the arts behind.”

“GDV Fine Wines® is constantly stocking beautiful exotic wines from around the globe to provide customers with a vast array of choices. We are also exploring different sales channels, trading platforms, and staff-customer interaction, which would allow for a smoother shopping experience and more diverse means of browsing and shopping. We are seeking to expand both physically in terms of shops, and online with multimedia social networks.”

Leap of Faith

“Success has always been a debatable notion, and certainly requires a combination of many elements, but I will try to present my empirical methodology and thinking as concisely as possible. Take a leap of faith, leap into unknown and have faith in the colleagues, friends, people around you, and last but not least, your very self. Beware, also, the mistake of not viewing people as notable individuals.

“Perseverance is key. Be the one who never gives up despite being ridiculed. Persistence means you keep fighting against obstacles barring you from success. Imagine yourself as the protagonist of a heroic adventure that is your life. Be not a slothful, envious despicable character, be the hero you admire.”

For additional information, please visit www.gdv.com.hk

Hong Kong’s Business Leaders share market and interest intelligence in the pages of HKMVC 2017