Ana is Romanian, born in Giurgiu, but even since she was 6 years old she moved to Bucharest where she lived until 2003, when she decided to go to study in London.
She graduated from the Management Faculty of ASE (Academy of Economic Studies) and continued to Huron University in London to obtain her MBA diploma. Ana was attracted by the University’s practical approach to studying which encouraged direct involvement and not just theory.
Her final project to achieve the MW certification consisted in actually selling and promoting a selection of Romanian wines in London. More precisely, Ana imported a wine pallet, which she sold to diverse bars, restaurants and markets in London. This first step helped her to understand how the market was functioning in reality and what true competition meant. The project was appreciated by the coordinating professors and gave Ana the prize for the “most entrepreneur student of the year”.
“The passion for wine I think I have it from childhood. My grandpa was a cooper and made wine and I grew up surrounded by vines and wine. I have chosen a career into this field thanks to the people I met and worked with. In general, those people working in the wine industry are passionate about wine and the wine field and so am I.”
Regarding training, Ana started to work since her Faculty time for various wine importing companies and agencies. Starting with 2004 she became an Oddbins employee, started working in the company as Branch Manager and then made her way up into Buying. She is now responsible for the whole wine range in the company portfolio. Oddbins is a specialized wine chain in UK with 47 stores in England and Scotland (with vast majority in London).
“At a consumer level, I have more information about consumption behavior in Great Britain. People in the UK know several names and brands on which they rely upon, for example Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Malbec, Bordeaux, Champagne, Prosecco or Veuve Clicquot and so on.
Some names are grape varieties, other are brands, other wine regions. Very few consumers know details. The idea is that all people in the wine industry, no matter in which country, should try to speak the consumer language so that they could make themselves understood by everyone. At Oddbins, we try to make wine to be sociable, more attractive and less serious: a good companion to every occasion!”
About Romanian wines, she appreciates a lot some of them. From this reason, Ana included two wines from Recas Wineries (Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio) into Oddbins offer, which are sold at approximately 7 Pounds and are among the top selling wines in the company.
Also, Oddbins works with Stirbey and Budureasca wineries.
She has also recently included Sole range of Recas Wineries.
“I like collaborating with Romanian producers who know what is asked for export, what competition is offering, what the consumer in the UK is looking for and who are not afraid to adapt and change for this market. They are ready and open, at least the ones I work with. I would like to see more wineries that would make this effort and grow on the export level.”
Furthermore, Ana continues to tell us her opinions and the fact that in Romania there is a need of collaboration between producers in order to help improving Romanian wines image.
On this common effort basis, small and middle wineries will gain more growth. Then, there is a need for investments in vineyard and cellars equipment. Everything has to be thought and seen on a long term. Ana believes that it is better to produce less and better than a lot and of a week quality.
Here are some answers to some short questions:
What is your international favorite wine and why? What about favorite local wine?
Aw, what can I say, I do not have a preferred one, depends on the season and on the meal. Now (it’s hot in London and I am still celebrating the end of studies) I would drink Champagne all day!
Among Romanian wines, I like Feteasca Regală – I believe it has a very good quality potential.
What do you recommend to someone starting out who wants to become a Master of Wine? How do you advise him / her to proceed so that he/she fulfil smoothly their dream?
First of all, one shouldn’t think of the lack of impediments because there will always be obstacles along the way if you wish to achieve something further. Be ready for sacrifices (financial and personal – time, travelling etc.), be super organized with your time, have a wine passion and enjoy socializing with people from all over the world. Aw, and if you encounter more difficulties, do not give up!
Favourite wine area in Romania: Dealu Mare
Favourite wine area abroad: Douro Valley in Portugal
Romanian wines are: with a very good potential for export
The Romanian wine industry must: go in the same direction to promote and improve Romanian wines’ image for export
Romanian wine consumer is: passionate about local wines, but starts to be curious and discover the ones imported
Few words about wine lovers: I appreciate them because they are ready to try new wines and are open minded to openly discuss with the ones who know more about the wine industry.
Photos: personal archive of Ana Sapungiu