For actress-turned-winemaker Bernice Liu, chasing her passion was a risk well worth taking

For actress-turned-winemaker Bernice Liu, chasing her passion was a risk well worth taking

For actress-turned-winemaker Bernice Liu, chasing her passion was a risk well worth taking

If given HK$8 million (about US$1 million) to spend, Bernice Liu, an actress, wine entrepreneur and philanthropist, would put it towards an around-the-world trip.

“I’d first travel the world to all the wine regions,” Liu says. “Then I would probably settle in China, where I could explore a little winemaking.”

Liu, who calls herself a “travelling winemaker”, founded the wine label Bellavizio in California’s Napa Valley in 2008. She has been recognised for her work in the industry, including being named one of the top 10 female winemakers by the Sakura Japan Women’s Wine Awards, and her Bellavizio vintages earning medals at competitions such as the Decanter Asia Wine Awards and the Grand Harvest Awards in the United States.

Born and raised in Canada, Liu moved to Hong Kong in 2001 to pursue an acting career, first appearing in television series such as the TVB sitcom Virtues of Harmony and later on in films including The King of Fighters with Maggie Q.

During her years in Hong Kong’s entertainment industry, Bernice Liu found that she did not have time to explore anything beyond her acting work.

“From the start, I’ve been somebody who doesn’t define myself as one thing. I go with my passion, so it’s not 100 per cent safe. Moving to Hong Kong was a huge risk, and I didn’t know what to expect,” Liu says, adding that working in the entertainment industry had left her no time to explore anything else.

It was a chance trip to the Napa Valley, taken during one of her acting jobs, that initially sparked her passion for wine. She then met Eric Boissenot, an influential oenologist in the Bordeaux region of France who provided guidance in her unexpected career change from acting to winemaking.

“I think it is very important to understand, what is your risk? Then you can understand how much to risk. Winemaking balanced my scholastic side, which I lost when acting took over,” says Liu, whose past studies in chemistry have helped her understand the different stages of the winemaking process. “Winemaking allowed me to step away from my everyday work, so it allowed me to breathe.”

Winemaking can often be unpredictable, but Liu finds all of it to be rewarding. “Sometimes you have bad weather, sometimes the vintage is not so good. But then sometimes you have beautiful vintages. Life happens like that, and I think that’s the beauty about life,” she says.

“When you open the bottle for the first time for that vintage, you don’t know what to expect,” Liu adds, noting that there is always an element that cannot be controlled. “When you get to that point, it’s not about what’s good or bad any more. It’s all about the journey, the experience, and it’s part of you.”

Liu says she never knows what to expect with a new vintage because so many elements cannot be controlled, from the weather to how well the wines will develop.

She compares her work to the concept of risk and return: greater risks can bring greater returns, and while sometimes they incur loss, you can still learn from them. “You can never be perfect at everything. If it’s something that I’m lacking, then either I go and learn a little bit more, or equip myself with tools. That’s the entrepreneur mindset.”

Liu believes the definition of success is different for everybody, and that some areas of life may feel rich while other parts may feel unfulfilled. She says: “I find that the balance that makes me feel most comfortable is a balance of both monetary and self-satisfaction.”

Watch the video to learn more about Liu’s views on winemaking, success and the rewards that come from taking risks.

Standard Chartered Bank launched its SC Wealth Select advisory initiative as part of its transformation into an advice-led organisation to assist its clients on their wealth journeys, guided by the adage: “From here, possibilities are everywhere”. Find out more here.

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