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Ex-Accenture Consultant Eyes Asian Wine Market

Charmaine Saw, Principal of UMAMU Estate vineyard in Australia talks about getting started in the wine industry

Last month,  Imperial College MBA Charmaine Saw, who runs Australian vineyard Umamu Estate, treated BusinessBecause to a private wine tasting and told us how she set up a successful wine brand with no background in the sector.

Charmaine made a pit-stop at our Soho office while on a trip from Malaysia. She was in the UK meeting with wine retailers and attending the London wine fair to market UMAMU Estate wines.

Charmaine’s “labour of love”, UMAMU Estate in Margaret River, Western Australia has vines first planted in 1978. It had its first vintage in 2005 and the wine entered the market in late 2006. She tells us that the wines- Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Merlot and Shiraz as well as Sparkling Chardonnay - are inspired by balance and contentment with a strong emphasis on allowing the vineyards to operate in equilibrium with the local ecosystem.

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                                            UMAMU Estate Wines


“When you drink wine, it’s usually a process of reflection and we want our wines to be a mirror image of that balance that many people seek. We want our brand to be something that consumers can have a relationship and contentment with”, says Charmaine, who
attended boarding school at Roedean in Sussex before moving on to study natural sciences at the University of Cambridge.

She is also a trained chef, has a keen interest in art and worked with management consulting firm Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting). In 2001 she graduated from Imperial College Business School full-time MBA, a programme she took because she wanted to gain more grounding in business and finance.

The entrepreneurship course was something that was particularly exciting for her and she’s grateful that she has an opportunity to apply her knowledge of organic chemistry, business and consulting into running UMAMU. Her eclectic background contributes to the uniqueness of UMAMU.

And does she drink her own wine? “Yes. Every day! It’s the house wine”, she says.  Presently, Charmaine’s key focus is on building up the brand and liaising with sellers in the UK, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Australia. She’s also working on finding new markets in Asia that are ready for premium wines. Our verdict on the wine? Well, we are no connoisseurs but we thought it tasted fabulous!

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