PHL Ambassador visits winery in New Zealand using Philippines products

A November 27, 2012, press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs

Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez (4th from right) during her visit to the Waiwera Organic Winery in Silverdale Auckland on November 8, 2012. From right: Miss Victoria Kirichuk (Administrator of Waiwera Organic Winery), Mr. Alex Kirichuk (Director of Waiwera Organic Winery), Mr. David Harre (Managing Director of Waiwera Organic Winery), Ambassador Benavidez, Edith Mueller (Owner and Managing Director of the Swiss Bliss Handmade Chocolates and Fine Baking), Mrs. Virginia Russell, President of the Confederation of Auckland Philippine Organizations). Back row from left: Mr. Rene Pascual (Director, New Zealand-Philippines Business Council- NZPBC), Consul General Marcos A.S. Punsalang and Atty. Paulo Garcia (Director, NZPBC).

As part of the Philippine Embassy’s economic diplomacy thrusts, Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez accompanied by Minister Marcos Punsalang, New Zealand-Philippine Business Council (NZPBC) Directors Paolo Garcia and Rene Pascual and Council of Auckland Pilipino Organizations (CAPO) President Virginia Russel visited the Waiwera Organic Winery production facility upon the invitation of its Director Mr. Alex Kirichuk in Silverdale, Auckland, on November 8.

The facility will produce rum using Philippine Muscovado sugar and beer, and chocolate liqueur using Philippine coconut sugar nectar. Mr. Kirichuk presented a bottle of rum and a bottle of wine to President Benigno S. Aquino III during the ‘meet and greet’ session of the business forum held during the President’s state visit to New Zealand last October 22 to 23.

Mr. Kirichuk showed Ambassador Benavidez and the group the mixing and fermentation vats and other technology used to make rum and vodka. He will make rum in 200 liter batches and has already signed an agreement with a Philippine company to import 20 tons of muscovado sugar monthly to be used in rum production. Philippine coconut sugar nectar will be used as a sweetener for beer, chocolate liqueur, and chocolates containing chocolate liqueur.

Mr. Kirichuk expressed interest to further explore business opportunities in the Philippines. Among the products that he would like to import are activated carbon made from Philippine coconut shells, Philippine coffee, and cocoa. He was particularly interested in the activated carbon made from Philippine coconut shells, which he claims is one of the finest  in the world for filtering gin.

Ambassador Benavidez reiterated her appreciation for Mr. Kirichuk’s keen interest in using Philippijne products and together with NZPBC Directors Paulo Garcia and Rene Pascual will assist in connecting him with the right Philippine suppliers.

Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez and Mr. Alex Kirichuk, Director of Waiwera Organic Winery, in a toast for a sampling of the Waiwera rum made out of muscovado sugar imported from the Philippines.

Mrs. Russell made arrangements for the chocolates with rum fillings made by Swiss Bliss to be featured during the ASEAN Festival held in Auckland last November 17. Messrs. Garcia and Pascual assisted Mr. Kirichuk in setting up a display of the Waiwera wines and rum during the NZPBC’s Anniversary Dinner at Stamford Plaza Hotel.

“The networking with Waiwera Organic Winery and the opportunities and prospects for using recognized Philippine ingredients to make fine rum and high end wines for selected markets will definitely open doors for greater partnership and lead to mutually beneficial business ties,” Ambassador Benavidez said.