New York state of mind
Soho Wines touch down in Samoa at Liquor Planet
Samoa’s food and wine connoisseurs put on their New York finest last night to celebrate Soho Wines’ arrival in Samoa.
The New Zealand wine label is named after the fashionable Soho entertainment districts in New York, London and Hong Kong.
The event hosted by Maluafou bottle shop Liquor Planet took place at the Glass Lounge at The Marina in Matautu.
Liquor Planet owner, Talei Lesa Ah Liki said they had brought in three of Soho’s most popular wines, the 2016 Stella sauvignon blanc, 2016 Jagger pinot gris and 2015 Havana pinot noir.
“What we love about the Soho label is that it’s all about good times with friends and family,” Ms Lesa Ah Liki said.
“The owner, Rachael Carter, had one of the best nights of her life with friends in Soho, New York, and the name came from that.”
Rachael’s family has been in the wine industry for 40 years. Her father originally manufactured winemaking equipment and packaging, and she left her studies early to help him.
When he sold the company and reinvested in vineyards, the family supported Rachael to start producing screw caps for wine bottles, which were just becoming popular at the time.
“In 2008, the Waiheke winery my father had invested in was struggling, and couldn’t afford to buy his grapes,” Rachael said in a Staples Rodway women in business profile earlier this year.
“I had always wanted my own wine company, so I sold our share in the screw cap company and started Soho Wines to take my father’s grapes. It’s all grown from there.”
Despite Soho’s 46 gold medals, Rachael said her daughter Maren was the highlight of her career.
“I am big on parenting and I tell the girls I work with (my staff is all female, it wasn’t planned that way but it’s how it worked out) that family comes first.”
Ms. Lesa Ah Liki said many Samoan business people could probably relate.
“Rachael is continuing a family legacy while creating a fresh and stylish brand, I’m sure a lot of people here will see their own stories reflected in that.”
The wines’ names reflect Rachael and her team’s tastes in fashion, music and travel.
“The Stella sauvignon blanc is named after Stella McCartney – it’s the fashionista’s wine, with fruity notes of passionfruit and citrus,” Ms. Lesa Ah Liki said.
“The Jagger pinot gris is the rockstar of the group, it’s got a subtle sweetness and a spicy aroma.”
And the Havana pinot gris is named after the Cuban capital, long famous for its dilapidated grandeur and classic cars, and more recently for hosting Chanel’s cruise 16/17 fashion show. Liquor Planet invited around 75 guests to Thursday’s wine tasting, including representatives of some of Samoa’s top restaurants and bars. Five tala from each bottle sold on the night will go to the Fiamalamalama School for children with intellectual disabilities in Alafua.
Principal Sharon Shuren said the school had 43 students and ran an employment program so its graduates could make a living and have a meaningful occupation.
“They learn handicrafts, cooking and vegetable gardening, so they can feed their own families as well as making money,” Ms. Shuren said.
Training in teacher support was also on the cards, so former students could work at the school and students could relate and look up to them.
Ms. Lesa Ah Liki said the school was doing wonderful things for the less fortunate and Liquor Planet was proud to be supporting them while they launched Soho in Samoa. Soho Wines are available at Liquor Planet on Cross Island Road.