Bottles: Crown Wine Cellars

Crown Wine Cellars – a bunker kind of cellar

By Henry Yuen

Where do most of the good wines go in Hong Kong?  What about a bunker? 

Stepping into the bunker, now one of the Crown Wine Cellar units, I was amazed by the volume of ceiling-high stacks of wines – exquisite wines that belong to members of Crown Wine Cellars on Shouson Hill of Hong Kong Island. 

High qualities wines demand proper cellars to facilitate the wine aging process while improving wine maturation in the bottle. Some custom-build wine cellars for their own collections but most wine enthusiasts prefer to resort to using professional wine cellars to protect and maintain the value of their liquid collections. Crown Wine Cellars is there to provide the exact service to these folks who do not have the time or know how or enough home-space to store their wines properly. 

To nobody’s surprise, the ultra rich in Hong Kong have no reservation in their desire and attempt to own premium quality wines. This is evident by the frenzy in various global wine auctions where a majority of the top dollar wines often go to successful bidders from Hong Kong. Interesting though, used to be that most of the auctioned wines either stayed at the original winery or were shipped to London or New York for storage due to the fact that there were no decent cellars in Hong Kong to house these wines. The wealthy virtually owned these wines remotely without even laying an eye on them. The recent birth of Crown Wine Cellars changed that.

Of 24 Second World War ordnance bunkers in Hong Kong, only 8 remained and were declared designated Asian heritage sites in 2007.  These bunkers, tucked into the mountain side where the temperature is always constant and kept cool, are devoid of any climate change and vibrations. Seeing that this is the ideal condition to house cellar wines, Crown Wine Cellars, the first of its kind in Hong Kong came into existence. 

Similar to the concept of a country club, Crown Wine Cellar accepts members who store their wines in the bunker-cellars that are professionally attended to with an extremely high security monitoring system on-site. A comprehensive cataloging log of member’s wines is available so each member can account for his/her wines at any moment in time. Besides providing delivery service to member’s residence, the largest bunker and tastefully modified room also is home to a cozy member-only clubhouse where gourmet meals and top caliber food service is available for members for special occasions. 

Now successful bidders from Hong Kong can actually bring the wines back home, inspect them, caress them and cellar them worry-free. Like art pieces, the owners can now embrace their treasured possessions and may open a bottle or two when the occasion arises.

Crown Wine Cellars (18, Deep Water Drive, Shouson Hill, Hong Kong  2580 6287)

Undercover: City Farmer

City Farmer – Advertures in Urban Food Growing
Author: Lorraine Johnson
ISBN 978-1-55365-519-0
Greystone Books
265 pages.
Cdn$19.95

Reviewed by Stephanie Yuen

As one less than casual spring time ‘potter’ but a serious plant lover who hopelessly stays on the trial and error stage after years of impulsive practice with big and small pots of green stuff, there have been far too much herbs and plants victims under my never green thumbs. When a book like City Farmer comes along, what excuse do I have not to flip through the pages?

As I was grasping in as much tips and guidelines from Ms. Johnson, the guru in gardening and city planting and a well-respected food and gardening activist, I realized I was entering into a world which was so close to us and yet seemingly unreachable, perhaps for someone like myself.

And then I read about real life stories of urban farmers, some of them started the path with no real experience but intense feeling about the concept of feeding ourselves and our families with food we grew in the balcony, rooftops and community gardens. Educational and inspirational, the experiences of these guerrilla urban farmers are also interesting and revealing at the same time.

City Farmer is the telescope that draws the reality of urban planting to readers, and how approachable an urban oasis in a concrete forest is!

The book is also a wake-up call telling us the positive and negative reality of the food world we are living in and how we can change that by doing the right thing. There’s hope for folks like me who in the near future, will be cooking with tomatoes, beans and basils plucked off from our own balcony!