Cover Meet Boca Juan Filipinas – your go-to distributor for highly-coveted bottles from Spain, Italy, and Argentina.

Good friends (and no strangers to the F&B industry, either) Carlo Calma Lorenzana and Bobby Basa Tenchavez turn their love for wine into a lucrative business

“Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” So they say, but that seems to be a luxury that only a few blessed souls enjoy. Perhaps, it helped that high school friends and business partners Carlo Calma Lorenzana and Bobby Basa Tenchavez of wine distribution company Boca Juan Filipinas had a lot of practice working together and getting to know their products. As young entrepreneurs more than a decade ago, they would often play hooky and imbibe their favourite drink, starting happy hour as early as they could have. “Of course, we always thought going into the business of wine was a good idea,” Lorenzana chuckles.

Fate smiled kindly on the bosom buddies as the door to their dream venture cracked open. Coincidentally, Lorenzana’s father acted as a consultant for the Argentinian Pescarmona family’s conglomerate that was engaged in various industries, one of them being Bodega Lagarde which had vineyards on the foothills of the Andes mountains. In 2010, Tenchavez and Lorenzana flew to Hong Kong to meet with Lagarde general manager Sebastian Barboza (who was the export manager at the time) to formalise their relationship. Today, Bodega Lagarde is one of the largest exporters of Argentinian wines to the Philippines.

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Their portfolio has since grown to include Italian wines from Tuscan giant Ricasoli, as well as bold and modern Spanish wines from Bodegas Franco-Españolas (Rioja) and Bodegas Valparaiso (Ribera del Duero). Boca Juan wines are selected individually for their quality and price-to-value ratio. Their picks can only be procured from Boca Juan and other select stores– none of the wines are available in supermarkets and liquor stores.

Lorenzana and Tenchavez are kept busy throughout the year as they curate their wine selection when they are sent the latest vintages to taste. With four wineries, multiple brands, and numerous varieties, the business partners truly have quite the tedious—and intoxicating—task at hand.

See also: Natural Wines In The Philippines: Will The Trend Catch On?
 

As it was with the rest of the food and beverage industry, the pandemic has posed some challenges. Lorenzana explains that the restaurants co-owned by Lorenzana and Tenchavez were set up to purchase wines from them, but with the lockdowns, these meant close to zero sales. However, individual sales have compensated for that slack and 2020 turned out to be quite the lucrative year for the company.

This momentary lull in the restaurant industry had its silver lining, as it allowed the business partners to reassess their sales channels. “We got to put our minds and hearts together to evolve and adjust to the times by focusing on selling and marketing to individuals. [This had not been thoroughly explored] as Boca Juan concentrated its efforts on the F&B industry prior to March 2020,” explains Lorenzana. “We realise that direct sales to individuals will be a mainstay in the new world after the pandemic.”

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As of writing, the two are excited about some coveted bottles coming in that they will be distributing locally. Ricasoli’s CeniPrimo Gran Selezione 2018 was given a perfect 100 per cent rating by James Suckling, and the Philippines will only be allocated 60 cases out of the 1000 to be distributed worldwide. From the progressive Ribera del Duero region of Spain, rare bottles of the Raices de Valapraiso 2017 are expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2022. Definitely, a sign that their partner wine producers believe in the Philippine market, and that these two happy hour buddies have more good times up ahead.

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