Stephen Wong MW
Became an MW 2016
Based in New Zealand
Languages English, Hokkien (Chinese dialect), Bahasa Malaysia
Home city: Wellington
Home country: New Zealand
Work address: Wine Sentience Hub, Level 1, 104 Vivian Street, Te Aro
Work city: Wellington
Work postcode: 6011
Work country: NZ
Malaysian-born Chinese, Stephen Wong MW moved from Borneo to Singapore and finally to New Zealand to read Law at the University of Otago. While studying, he worked in hospitality, and as a club DJ.
His wine journey started when he moved to Central Otago in 2000, getting his first taste of vineyard work, visiting wineries and managing a wine list. He moved to Wellington to complete his Barrister examinations, but subsequently switched full time into a fledgling sommelier role and learning on the job. After seven years sommelier-ing, Stephen moved into consulting; helping restaurants and hotels in New Zealand and Singapore with their wine programs. He gained his Master of Wine title in 2016.
Stephen became actively involved in the IMW's education committee immediately after passing - taking on co-coordinator role for the Australasian seminar for four years alongside Andrea Pritzker MW, and now overseeing the Assignment Marking Scheme. He is also a co-chair of the Institute's newly formed Diversity, Inclusion and Transformation Committee alongside Lisa Granik MW.
Stephen runs a small hospitality support and education co-operative in Wellington, called Wine Sentience; hosting classes and organising wine events for industry and public. At the start of the pandemic in 2020, Stephen joined forces with an old university friend and co-founded Stompy, an online wine tech startup in California built around a proprietary taste and palate identification algorithm.
Outside of his day jobs, he lectures at Le Cordon Bleu NZ, writes about wine for various publications, speaks at conferences, judges wine shows and provides taste and market advice for wineries and generic wine bodies. He is also the NZ Ambassador for Germany's VDP Estates and provides en-premise fine wine support for French importer Maison Vauron, specialising in Burgundy, Rhône and Loire wines.
Primary area(s) of work: Trade, Strategy, Communication
Industry sector(s): Agency/Importer, Business owner, Buying, Consultant, Distribution, Educator, Events, Journalism, Off trade, On trade, PR, Wine buying, Wine judge
Wine styles: Champagne, Fine and rare wines, Natural, Orange wines, Still red, Still rosé, Still white, Sweet wines
Wine region expertise: Alsace, Austria, Baden, Burgundy, Canterbury (NZ), Central Otago, Champagne, France, Germany, Hawke's Bay, Marlborough, Martinborough, Nelson, New Zealand, Rhone
Market expertise: Asia, New Zealand, North America, Oceania, South East Asia
Specialisms: Organic viticulture, Wine styling, Sensory evaluation , Digital communications, Direct to consumer, Distribution, Ecommerce, Education, Events, Food and wine pairing, HORECA, Identifying and meeting consumer demand, Independent retail, Restaurant wines, Supplier/customer relationships, Technology, Training, Wine laws and regulations, Wine marketing research, Wine tourism, Wine judging