MonteMaria sits on a plateau overlooking a serene ocean gateway where vessels large and small cruise to and from the southern tip of Luzon island in the Philippines. At 322 feet, MonteMaria is one of the grandest religious structures in the world. The Mother of All Asia Tower of Peace is a statue devoted to Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church of the Catholic religion.
The amazing structure and development, which has become an internationally renowned pilgrimage and tourist destination is located in MonteMaria, in Batangas Province of the Philippines. It is part of a grander development that will eventually feature hotels, restaurants, residential subdivisions, a marina, an amphitheater/concert hall, clubhouse, sports and recreation facilities, health and wellness centers, a marine sanctuary, and other tourist attractions. Venues for special events are also planned that will host weddings, retreats, and a host of other recreational activities.
As the Philippines celebrates 500 years of Catholicism, a group of forward-thinking entrepreneurs from both sides of the Pacific Ocean have come up with a new project that commemorates the event, and combines MonteMaria and its iconic structure with the centuries-old tradition of wine-making.
The venture is MonteMaria Cellars, a unique collection of blessed wines cellared and bottled in Napa Valley, California by Napa Valley Distribution, Inc. The wines offered are specially made for the Holy Site of MonteMaria, Batangas.
Spearheading the project from the Napa, California side is Jason Elkin, an international disruptor, innovator, vintner and proprietor who founded and owns #TrendingWine. He has been involved in all areas of the wine and hospitality industry and is considered by many as the “Mark Zuckerberg of the wine industry.”
Elkin, who was introduced through business contacts to the MonteMaria group, is not coming blind into the project—having visited the Philippines in early 2020 coincidentally right before the global pandemic. At that time, he fully immersed himself into the culture and developed business models, brands and flavor profiles that would be most appropriate for Filipino food and festivities. He also realized that Napa wines had no presence on shelves and in markets in the Philippines.
With MonteMaria Cellars, Elkin sees a fruition of a plan to present quality Napa Valley and California wines to the Filipino consumer. Price points, according to the de facto consultant for many established and small batch Napa winemakers, will appeal to different kinds of consumers.
“We have custom-created flavor profiles that will support the epicurean cuisines and palates of the Philippines and the Filipino community. We will present multiple tiers and price points to appeal to all – from the wine curious to the wine connoisseur,” the Cal State University Fresno alum told the Asian Journal via email. “We feel confident that Napa Valley California wines will be received extremely well as the region is recognized for its wine production and as one of the most renowned wine-growing regions in the world.”
And seeing as how Filipinos will be celebrating five centuries of Catholicism in the archipelago, Mr. Elkin, and Napa Valley Distribution, in affiliation with One Global Trading, a division of One Global Management Company, Inc., have ventured to develop and distribute California and Napa Valley wines into the Philippines and other Asian markets. The plan is for MonteMaria Cellars to become a stable and flagship wine brand that Filipinos will see as an option for memorabilia, gift-giving and collectibles, aside from, of course, wine consumption.
MonteMaria Cellars and its wines will pay homage to the monument and “can also become a keepsake, a souvenir for the Catholic community and tourists.” There is a future plan for a tasting room that will feature educational wine and food programs as an added component.
Another plan includes “corks that will be blessed where the wine bottle logo will be scannable and introduce a virtual video of a Catholic priest giving a blessing that will create an impromptu experience for buyers.” Elkin added that the brand and products will offer a blessing in the bottle that gives off a positive energy, and the blessing can be adopted for a variety of special events in people’s lives like anniversaries, birthdays, business gatherings, social get-togethers and holiday/vacation/travel getaways.
Jason, who grew up in Napa Valley and developed concepts and digitally-interactive labels with a call to action to appeal to modern consumers, is excited at the prospect of growing the MonteMaria Cellars brand in the Philippines and internationally.
“I devote my time, expansion and priority to projects I feel most confident and passionate about. The Philippines is not saturated in the Napa Valley and California beverage space. The traditional business side of the wine industry would be extremely hesitant to offer models and custom support, outside of simply fulfilling a purchase order. I feel that this wine market and wine business in the Philippines is still pure, and the new energy will be contagious. Also, the timing is right,” Elkin revealed to the Asian Journal, while adding that future plans include expanding his portfolio, lifestyle brands and partnerships to include celebrity beverages and also activating additional lifestyle brands for large-scale events in the Philippines.
Jason is excited to visit the Philippines again when the pandemic subsides, and he wants to do it at the soonest time possible.
“I am extremely passionate about this project and I am excited at the fact that it will introduce additional business ventures and economic developments,” Elkin stated.
MonteMaria Cellars is currently offering a Special Limited Collector’s Edition bottle that features a 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This Cabernet Sauvignon opens with aromas of black cherry, black current, and dark plum layered upon notes of toasty caramel. This rich and opulent Cabernet Sauvignon compliments a variety of dishes including portabello, cheeses, braised short ribs, or a herb crusted lamb shank, and prime choice cut steaks. Only 500 bottles are made available for this vintage, which comes in 3-liter wine bottles priced at $500 each.