End of an era | Don St Pierre Jr resigns from ASC

Screen capture from asc-wines.com
Screen capture from asc-wines.com

After nearly two decades in China’s wine business, ASC co-founder Don St. Pierre, Jr has resigned, the company announced in a press release today:

“When my father and I started ASC Fine Wines in 1996 our vision was to bring the best quality wines from around the world to wine drinkers throughout China. The success we achieved is a testament to and a result of the passion, dedication and team work from the many wonderful people who worked at ASC over the past 19 years.” Mr. St. Pierre commented.

He continued, “ASC’s success would also have not been possible without the strong support of both its customers throughout Greater China, its suppliers/wineries from around the world and more recently its parent company, Suntory Wine International.”

“Moving forward, under the leadership of Bruno Baudry, CEO of ASC, and with the strong support of Yuji Yamazaki, Chairman of the Board of ASC and President & CEO of SWI, I believe ASC has enormous opportunities for growth and can continue to be the leading wine importer throughout Greater China.”, Mr. St. Pierre said.

St. Pierre witnessed plenty of ups and downs during his 19 years in the wine business. The early days were often desperate ones as sales expectations were lower than expected and cash reserves dwindled. A fortuitous meeting between his father Don Sr and Austrian businessman Gernot Langes-Swarovski — they met when the former asked the latter for a cigarette after a business meeting in Beijing – turned into an investment that allowed the company to survive and then thrive.

Within a decade of its founding, ASC was the key importer in a rapidly rising China market, a market that continues to entice the world and and now has thousands of importers and distributors, a growing online scene, and a consumer base increasingly focused on wine for its taste rather than just as a status symbol.

St Pierre has also found himself front and center of many of the ups and downs. On one hand, he has received a wide range of local and international accolades. On the other, he was in the middle of a China Customs investigation in 2008 that saw ASC fined and him spend four weeks in detention.

But true to the nature of the turbulent China wine scene, within months of his release, and amid much speculation about ASC’s future, St Pierre Jr and his father hosted Robert Parker on his first visit to mainland China and underscored the company’s resiliency.

ASC is firmly entwined in the history of imported wine in China and hopefully there is a book somewhere along the way that gives us the inside story.

(Click here for the first Grape Wall interview, in 2007, with Don St. Pierre, Jr.)

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