Los Angeles, CA –Shin and Yuko Kibayashi, the sibling authors who created the wildly popular “Drops of God” manga series, recently launched the manga-themed Drops of God Wine Salon in California, marking the national debut of their paradigm-shifting new wine club. “It’s much more than a wine club,” said Peter Chiang, President of Bijou USA and Vice President of Bijou Japan, the global joint venture established with the Kibayashi’s to better serve salon members in the United States, Japan and Taiwan. “Our mission is simple: we want our members to create lasting memories through food and wine,” Chiang said. “We’re also aware that tastes evolve and change over time, and we’d like to accompany our members on their life-long journey with wine. As their tastes evolve, we’ll respond accordingly, consistently curating wines for them that meet their ever-evolving tastes. And we’ll be bringing them unusual events that highlight a culture of fun and creativity,” Chiang continued.
The launch events, which took place at Chef Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc (Yountville) and Chef Jose Andres’ The Bazaar (Beverly Hills) were well-attended by hundreds of enthusiastic wine and manga fans who flanked the Kibayashi’s as they moved through crowds while signing manga books, raising glasses with fans and posing for photos. Wines by producers Ashes & Diamonds, Calera, Failla, Matthiasson, Massican, Noria, Kanpai, Marietta, and Scribe were poured for guests as a sneak peak to what members can expect from their first shipment, set to ship in January of 2020. Many members had taken the salon’s unique “Palate Quiz” prior to attending the launch events. Available on the salon’s eponymously named website, the quiz is intended to employ a consumer’s more artistic approach to wine enjoyment. The general spirit of the salon, Chiang says, is to encourage members to pursue an “inquisitive” approach to wine, rather than just rely on “authoritative” voices. “We want to engage the right side of the brain; the creative side that is attracted to the arts, for wine is an art and it is an art form that should be available to all, as music is,” said Chiang. The ever-evolving salon website will in essence be a content portal and wine club for members, with live-streaming events, such as tastings hosted by Shin and Yuko, among just one of several interactive features offered.
“Drops of God is part of a long tradition of artistry and craftsmanship in visual story-telling, and in turn it recognizes these virtues in the wines that it folds into its stories,” says winemaker Steve Matthiasson of Matthiasson. “It is a great honor for us to participate in this process; for our work with the soil and the vines to take on another life through story, plot and drama. The magic of wine is that it is as much a story as it is a beverage: a marriage of place, process, and people. Drops of God celebrates this magic.”
Throughout the course of the launch events, guests enjoyed interactive game play with wine industry luminaries utilizing the co-branded Drops of God Wine Salon WineGame app. The WineGame app, developed by Chef Jose Andres and Rob Wilder, is intended to encourage consumers to taste wines blind, helping them to identify their own tastes without the influence of scores, critiques or labels. “When you become confident in your own palate…that’s when one’s real love affair with wine begins,” added Chiang. Members will utilize the app to bookmark wines they’ve discovered and enjoyed, signaling Chiang’s team of sommeliers and wine professionals to further curate wines within the individual member’s arena of taste.
Guests played in tournament-like blind tasting rounds, with winners taking home prizes that included benchmark wines from the Drops of God manga, including Sine Qua Non’s Eleven Confessions, one of the manga’s apostle wines. The co-branded app has additional manga-themed information, art and quizzes built in to better appeal to salon members. As the salon evolves, additional membership benefits will come into fruition including unique hospitality opportunities and in-market events for members and their guests that promise unprecedented novelty. “My family and I own an inn and restaurant in Calistoga, both of which by late 2020, will be converted into manga-themed environments for salon members to enjoy,” Chiang added. Food and wine service, as well as interactive game play, will be a part of these physical additions to the salon. “We want our members to immerse themselves in Shin and Yuko’s inquisitive journey into the hidden gems of the wine world.”
The Kibayashi’s, who reside full time in Japan, spent a portion of their recent trip stateside visiting wineries in the Napa Valley and Sonoma as part of the on-going vetting process they’ll undertake as they curate wines for salon members. “It’s no secret that a lot of what we’ve featured in the manga thus far has been focused on the old world. But what really caught our attention was the modern, balanced, site-specific New World wines we’ve been tasting over the past few years. These wines excite us and we’re committed to sharing them with our fans. The New California wine movement in particular has resulted in beautifully balanced wines,” the Kibayashi’s shared through a translator. The manga and television series has a reported fan base of 300 million. Recently, Amazon’s Comixology and Kodansha Comics digitally published all volumes of “Drops of God” in translation to English. “Another reason to celebrate manga and American wines”, the siblings added. “The series is now available to our American fans in its entirety.”
“We will be applying the same principals for the exploration of American wines we shared in the manga: Heaven, Earth, Man and Marriage,” the siblings added. In The Drops of God, Heaven represents the weather, and is a direct reference to the climate of a given geographical area. Earth refers to terroir, or soil and viticultural/cultural practices and conditions. Man refers to winemaking and cellar practices, while Marriage refers to the marriage of wine and food. Salon members will receive 6-bottle shipments per quarter for a total of 2 cases annually. The siblings added that they want their salon to be “inspired by the great salons of the renaissance and 1930’s Paris, when people were encouraged to be creative and appreciate the finer things in life, irrespective of their social standing or class. Enjoyment and pleasure for everyone is important to us and wine is a great avenue towards joy.”
“When I first read the original Drops of God series it brought me great joy to see wine translated to the pages of a comic book with such incredible creativity and storytelling. I was hooked. And to have Massican contribute to the next iteration of the series, I am not only honored but also flabbergasted that my table-friendly white wine from Napa Valley could be recognized as worthy! I do hope I don’t let anyone down!” says Dan Petroski, winemaker and owner of Massican.
To learn more about the Drops of God Wine Salon, please visit www.dropsofgodwinesalon.com.