한국계 미국인 Matthew Horkey와의 인터뷰
Dr. Matthew Horkey, operator of the website Exotic Wine Travel and YouTube channel Exotic Wine Travel, gave an interview to THE SCENT.
Exotic Wine Travel wants to be a resource for learning more about lesser-known wine regions and unique wines. The website is intended for wine lovers who have an open mind, a curious attitude, and an adventurous palate.
Dr. Matthew Horkey, born in Korea, has authored four books (Travel Learn Earn, Uncorking the Caucasus, Sipping Santa Barbara, and Cracking Croatian Wine). His wine writing has appeared on JancisRobinson.com and Wine Folly. An experienced public speaker in his pre-wine life, he’s been a guest speaker at the American University of Rome, Life University, and various companies including Microsoft, TripAdvisor, Norton Rose, and JP Morgan. Dr. Horkey is passionate about learning and trying traditional and unique wines, sharing information with people, and turning them on to wine. He does that now predominantly via the Exotic Wine Travel YouTube channel.
In 2015, Matthew left Singapore and a lucrative career for a sabbatical trip and has been on the road non-stop ever since. He now leads a location-independent lifestyle and produces content about wine for a living. Matthews spends all of his time around wines and winemakers, sampling around 5,000 wines annually. Out of the thousands of wine grape varieties in the world, he’s tried almost 400 of them.
What made you have an interest in wine?
I first became interested in wine back in 2004, my final year of university (Michigan State University, USA). I saw a little film called Sideways and was fascinated by how intellectual wine was. During graduate school, I took a backpacking trip to Europe and tasted a simple Vino da Tavala in Tuscany, I was hooked. Once I moved to Asia for work (Singapore), I started drinking better and better wines. Soon I was going to tastings and dinners every week.
When I decided to take a sabbatical in 2015 with my current business partner, we noticed that all of our money was going towards visiting wine regions and tasting wine. At that point, we decided to turn it into a career and soon after our first book was released “Uncorking the Caucasus: Wines from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia”.
Which wine regions are most interesting for you?
I am a sucker for many of the classic regions like Piemonte, Tuscany, and the Loire. I spend a lot of time in Croatia and wrote a book about the wines “Cracking Croatian Wine: A Visitor-Friendly Guide”. Croatian wines are exciting and there are nearly 140 indigenous grapes. Moldova, a country I now you(THE SCENT) are fond of, is very exciting for me too. The wines have a beautiful purity of fruit.
Hungary, Slovenia, and Portugal are currently areas that I am digging into on a deep level. And in recent years, I’ve also been taking deep dives into Puglia and Sardegna, Italy. As far as the New World, I still believe California is the most dynamic region in the world, there is so much interesting stuff going on there. I also love the wines of Australia but have yet to visit the country. The world of wine is so big!
How do you finance your travel?
The first few years was all personal investment. we financed everything ourselves. As our reputations grew, we found ourselves on more press trips. Our income comes from affiliate marketing on our website, YouTube, book sales, and side jobs such as PR and copywriting. It’s not a lot but I’m focusing on continuing to build the brand and reputation of Exotic Wine Travel.
Will you concentrate more on YouTube?
One hundred percent yes. We are currently at 2,500 subscribers which isn’t a lot but the channel has engagement and receives about 13,000 views per month. It’s a lot for wine but not a lot in the world of YouTube. My partner and I are currently changing up the channel to reach more people and make the videos more entertaining. There is still a lot of potential in YouTube.
How many visitors do you have for your website (https://exoticwinetravel.com/)?
Our website is niché and has a dedicated 15,000 unique views per month. We do write about a lot of obscure wines and regions and show up on the first page of Google for many wines and regions (in English).
How is life as a wine region traveler? Interesting and difficult?
It’s exciting because I’m always in new places, tasting new wines, eating new foods - with the exception of this year. Meeting new people is always exciting too. Winemakers from lesser known regions are always excited to show their wines and what they have to offer. I bring wines from obscure regions to blind tastings often and they always show well. There are great wines being made all over the world. A few years ago, I took a Thai Syrah to a blind tasting and several sommeliers thought it might be a Côte-Rôtie.
Moving all the time is not for everyone. Early on, I traveled from place to place quickly. Organizing travel and logistics can be a huge pain in the butt. These days, I rent a place for a few months and treat that as a home base for smaller trips in nearby regions. It cuts down the amount of stuff I have to carry with me too! I often rent apartments, so it’s like I am constantly moving into a new place every few months. Since Exotic Wine Travel is still fairly young and new, this is not a luxurious life. The travel, food, and wine are fabulous but everything else can be a grind. I’m not afraid of the work. In my past life, it took a lot of elbow grease, grit, and grind to build a successful business. I try to take those experiences and incorporate them into Exotic Wine Travel.
<이탈리아 사르데냐(Sardegna) 섬에서 비즈니스 파트너인 Charine Tan과 함께>
What does it mean to taste the wines at International competitions?
I do taste from a wide variety of countries all year round. Tasting at international competitions gives me the opportunity to taste a lot of the wines that most consumers are drinking. I also love judging at regional competitions, they can give a great overview into a region or grape variety. Before COVID took down the world, I judged a Vermentino competition in Sardinia for the second time. It was exciting to see the different styles from Europe, USA, and Australia.
Role Models in the wine industry?
Since I am trying to do something quite different, I would say that many of my role models are outside of the wine industry. Now that a lot of my focus is in YouTube, there are many famous vloggers that I follow like Casey Neistat, Peter McKinnon, and Indie Mogul. In wine, the people I respect a lot are Antonio Galloni (Vinous) and Ian d’Agata. Many people in the wine industry despise James Suckling but I have a lot of respect for him. To taste all that great wine and make a great living is admirable.
Like everyone around the world, COVID has changed my life. At the beginning of the year I traveled a lot but since the world went crazy, I’ve been ‘stuck’ in Croatia. Since the country is in the EU, producers have still been able to send me lots of samples and I have been keeping up with our website content and YouTube channel. This year has been tough but it’s made me work on improving things, especially the YouTube channel. I believe that someone who figures out how to integrate storytelling, presentation, and wine can wine big time - I hope that someone is me :)
When you ask somebody in the wine business this question, they often give the same ‘that’s difficult, it depends on my mood’ answer. Which to me is true. I will say that the most memorable wine I had in the last few years is a 2002 JL Chave Hermitage Rouge. The leather and black pepper notes from that wine are still embedded into my mind.
Thank you so much Matthew for this interview!
THE SCENT Editorial Department