Type 'extreme winemaking' into a search engine and you will discover the risky and costly world of ice wine, a meticulous production process that demands far more than just freezing temperatures. Driven by a challenge, Canadian-born entrepreneur Jackie Fast has launched the luxury ice wine brand REBEL Pi that aims to get UK consumers wanting to buy something they aren't even looking for.
"Nobody drinks it, nobody buys it, nobody knows how it is made… everything is a challenge with it," laughs Jackie Fast as she explains to gbtimes.com the new mission that she has willingly undertaken. Once described by Forbes as 'relentless', the half-Chinese newcomer to the ice wine industry shows no sign of nerves, but admits that the fear of failure has always been a key motivator.
Canadian-born entrepreneur Jackie Fast has launched the luxury ice wine brand REBEL Pi that aims to get UK consumers wanting to buy something they aren't even looking for.
At present, Jackie Fast is appearing on British TV screens in the fourteenth series of the reality show The Apprentice, competing against 15 candidates for a £250,000 (US$330,000) investment prize. However, she has already achieved notable commercial success with the marketing agency Slingshot Sponsorship, which counts Shell and Red Bull among its high-profile clients.
Started from her bedroom in 2010, she built the UK-based firm into an award-winning multimillion-pound business and then sold it in 2016. "The business grew exponentially and was an amazing success, but I wanted to take what I learned with my last business and apply it to something a bit more tangible," she says, adding that she also wanted something from which to build a story.
The story began during a wine tasting in Ontario on her honeymoon earlier this year, following a frustrated search for a vineyard in which to invest in British Colombia's Okanagan Valley, her hometown and location of the majority of Canada's ice wine producers. While the concept of ice wine had been familiar to her since she was a child, nobody had ever talked about its production.
A normal grape will give about ten drops of wine, but a crushed frozen grape will only dispense a single drop, she reveals. Add in losing two-thirds of the crop to animals and rot, plus the cost of workers waiting for temperatures to drop below minus eight in order to harvest, it doesn't make sense for most ice wine producers to further cut into their margins by distributing overseas.
"It was really at that moment that it felt like there was something special in my discovery. Obviously, I did not 'discover' ice wine—it's been around for 200 years—but just in the fact that here is a product that is really special that the general population outside Canada doesn’t know about […] and it's really difficult to get your hands on because they keep it local," she adds...