Kim Wachtveitl, The Beverage Baron
Co-owner of the wine Garage consultancy and Quince restaurant, Kim Wachtveitl was born into a family steeped in the hospitality business. The son of legendary hotelier Kurt Wachveitl, the former general manager of the Mandarin Oriental, Kim attended boarding school in his father’s native Germany where he also completed an apprenticeship programme in hospitality before taking up internships with wineries in the French regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Although he admits to an early interest in wine, he says it wasn’t until he experienced the wineries in France that he truly discovered his passion for the noble grape. Kim’s next move was to the United States where shortly after graduating from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration he became F&B manager at the illustrious Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. While in the Big Apple he also took the opportunity to become a certified sommelier with the American Sommelier Association.
On his return to Thailand in 2001, he gained further valuable experience as the business development director at Siam Winery and as the vice president of the Thai Wine Association. In this capacity Kim was keen to put his knowledge and expertise to good use in the development of the country’s nascent wine industry, an outlook that eventually led to Wine Garage, the consultancy that he co-founded in 2013. “You have to remember that back in the days, Thailand’s wine market was still relatively small and not particularly diverse,” he says. “I think it was a good time to push the boundaries, to enable people to discover more about wine.”
In its drive to expand access to a broader range of local and international wines and spirits, particularly the lesser known wines that he sees as hidden gems, Wine Garage has certainly kept Kim busy. “It’s the kind of self-inflicted challenge that I enjoy…all that sampling and tasting,” he says with a laugh. Since its inception, the consultancy’s clientele has grown to include prestigious hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental, the Sukhothai, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and The Okura Prestige Bangkok, as well as top restaurants such as L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Le Du and Gaggan. “Our goal is to have a portfolio of enough diversity to suit the various types of cuisine out there. Believe me, that is a big challenge given how Bangkok’s culinary scene has boomed in recent years,” he adds.
And Kim should know as a co-owner of popular Quince restaurant and the fashionable Sukhumvit bar-cum-nightclub Sing Sing Theater. Unsurprisingly he is the man in charge of the wines for both venues. But what does he love most about his job? “I love everything about it—from the selection of products to marketing them through our newsletter to meeting clients and seeing them happy with the labels they stock. There is nothing routine about it, so it’s always fun.”
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Of course, there is more to life than work. In addition to his role as a businessman, Kim is also married to Nalin and the father of two sons aged seven and nine. Creating a work-life balance is made easier because his residence and office are so close to one another, and despite a busy schedule that entails attending numerous meetings and dinners across the city each week—as well as occasional business trips abroad—he is able to pop in and out of his home between appointments. “I wake up early and sometimes take the boys to school,” he says. “On weekends we take them to birthday parties and sports competitions. We also try to take a brief family holiday once a month. I like to go to places like Khao Yai because I love spending time in nature.” When he has free time he enjoys going to the gym, swimming and hiking, all of which helps to keep any epicurean spread packed on as a result of his day job at bay.