▲ Park Jong Myoung says 1950 See You at the Top tangerine wine was created so the thousands of conferences held on Jeju Island each year could make official toasts with a local product. Photo by Kang Bong Su
For any company releasing a new project, gaining name recognition is an obvious and important goal, though it is often difficult to obtain. Jeju’s newest wine brand has achieved that on an international scale less than a month after its release, with the tangerine tipple being sipped for the official toasts and at the official dinner of the 2010 Korea-Japan-China summit. The company’s home addresses are equally impressive, with its laboratory based at the Jeju College of Technology and its headquarters and shop on the first floor of the Ramada Plaza Hotel.
Preparation and development of the wine, named 1950: See You at the Top, started three years ago, said Park Jong Myoung, president of Songyun Co., Ltd., which produces the brand. “But the product was only released on May 1 of this year.” Just in time to be served to the movers and shakers of Korea, Japan and China at the summit at ICC Jeju on May 29 and 30, and to participants in many sub-conferences taking place at other venues on the island.
The preponderance of such important events on the island was part of the impetus behind the product, Park said. “The original proposal was that there are about 6,000 conferences each year on Jeju and they were toasting with wines from overseas and we questioned whether that was appropriate.” The company had already produced a raspberry wine so experimented with how to produce a drinkable wine from tangerines. Not wanting to make the heady matters discussed at such events any headier, the alcohol content is 11 percent, which is at the lower end of the range for table wine.
The tangerine wine’s name refers to another of Jeju’s best-known symbols, Mount Halla, which is 1,950 meters high. “See You at the Top,” is a “challenge toward dreams,” a brand brochure states. “There is a silent cry of dreamers, while conquering the summit in quietude, step by step.”
Korean wines are, as a rule, sweeter than preferred by the European or Western palate and 1950 does have the sweet top note one might expect from a drink made from tangerines. That is balanced by a drier base that develops on the tongue, however, making the wine unusual at first and sweeter than many Westerners would normally select, but with an interesting and complex flavor. “Theoretically,” Park said, “it should taste best after three years,” but obviously no three-year old vintage yet exists to sample. There are 1,000 bottles being cellared, with tastings planned at six-month intervals, to test that theory.
▲ Photo by Kang Bong Su
Sommeliers and top chefs from hotels across Jeju were invited to tastings before the wine was released and the feedback was positive, Park said, although there were some comments on the sweetness. More varietals are planned, with different degrees of dryness, and also a red wine made from mulberries. For the immediate future, however, 1950 will head the company as Mount Halla defines Jeju Island. “Since we only have one product, I recognize we are not yet well-known so we plan to concentrate on marketing 1950 for two years,” Park said.
The store at the Ramada was designed by general affairs manager Yang Hyun Sim and gives a sense of Jeju’s traditional houses surrounded by peaceful forests, although far more elegant than any real village, and is open for tastings and sales from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. every day. As an added touch, the store can etch the bottles customers purchase with a message or design marking a special occasion. (Park hopes to get international rights to the machine and process used to etch the bottles.) The bottles served at the summit were marked this way and there are more personal samples available in the store, and Yang is happy to assist with the design. Yang herself is not only a talented designer but the twin sister of local golf pro Yang Yong Eun, adding yet another element of cachet, if only reflected, to the project.
Marketing is mainly about perception and appearance and 1950 presents an elegant and sophisticated image – add in the fact that the wine is also very drinkable and one can see the brand becoming synonymous with a trip to Jeju Island.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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