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Tech Talk: An SOS Service for Wineries in Distress

Posted: Monday, 21 May 2012 16:50

Tech Talk: An SOS Service for Wineries in Distress

May 21 : With the sudden increase in wine production and number of wineries in India, there is a likelihood of some difficulty in maintaining high quality standards required to stay afloat. TWC India, a wine consultancy firm with relevant international experience has emerged offering both technical and marketing services to wineries in distress and has positioned itself as an SOS unit, writes Subhash Arora.

TWC India is the Delhi- based Indian arm of the Paris-based TWC which claims to have entered the wine scenario at a rather critical stage with significant quantity of un-bottled wine with suspect quality still lying in tanks at several wineries in Maharashtra and even in Karnataka.

The principle company, TWC is headed by wine consultant Dr. Ariff Jamal who may not be new to India, where he first introduced Albert Bichot from Burgundy through Brindco a decade ago and later was invited through this consultancy firm to surgically revamp the wines at Grover Vineyards 3 years ago. TWC claims that not only did it bring the situation under control; it also raised the bar of quality at Grover Vineyards with wines rated high by Robert Parker’s team.

Keeping in view the burgeoning potential demand in the Asian wine market, TWC started early to provide their services in China and India. The Indian subsidiary has been named as Tastevin Wine Consultancy and is managed by the young and energetic Managing Director, Prateek Mehra who has worked under Dr. Jamal and accumulated valuable hands-on wine making experience in several countries in Europe, U.S.A, Oceania and Asia.

‘With a clear understanding of the Indian environment, difficulties both in viticulture and viniculture, language barriers, supplies of chemical material for wine making, its availabilities and structure, manned with a trained local team with international experience, we have set up the base in India to cater for this new and upcoming market, with China market to follow,’ Dr Jamal informs delWine.

‘The general objective for the Indian market also includes providing related services which include Production, Assessment - Selection and Sourcing, Marketing and Sales, Public Relations and Legal Translations’, says Mehra, adding, ‘ In addition, TWC will go a step further and also become involved in providing  complete local on-site assistance through the winemaking -starting from grapes to the bottle.’ 

‘We know that the domestic wine making segment within the trade was dominated principally by pioneers like Grover and Indage who paved the path to bring India onto the world wine map based on Old World style wines,’ says Dr Jamal, adding ‘thereafter the new comers like Sula, Four seasons etc. brought in a fresh wind with new styles and took the trade to the next step.’

‘All this provoked an extraordinary phenomenon which indirectly created the demand for grapes. The usage of table grapes or the importation of bulk foreign wine to blend with the local wines now all belonged to the past and so the commencement of grape growers destined for the wine making industry. The concept here was Indian grapes for an India wine, made in India to international standards, but by a foreign wine maker,’ explains Dr Jamal. ‘With the continued demand for these local wines, the grape growers realized very quickly there was more profit in a sale of a bottle of wine then a sale of a kilo of grapes and thus very rapidly reconverted and invested in boutique wineries to make wine,’ he adds.

‘Evidently they tried to copy the big brothers as best as they could, by bringing in international wine makers and following international wine making procedures, but what they overlooked was that the “big brothers” were still in their teething stage and thus making mistakes in wine making – not uniquely confronted with procedures or knowledge but more so due to the harsh conditions in India. As a result the wines that were made were of low standard and generally faulty, not worth the effort’, feels Dr. Jamal who was stationed in Bangalore during the whole time the process of recovery and revamp.

Smaller wineries will continue to mushroom and inevitably be confronted to make high quality wines – being lead in all directions until the financial wound is so deep that only surgical help can restore the damage which sometimes could also lead to bankruptcy or general closure of the winery. This is where the surgical team of Dr. Jamal steps in.

Recently TWC guided a Karnataka based grape grower who started a new winery to launch wines in 2012. ‘The problem is that the foreigner consultant winemakers come periodically but for the rest of the time they talk only through Skype or phone and are not fully at hand when required,’ says Prateek. That is where a gap arises since the growers are not wine makers or wine experts,’ says Mehra.

Photo By:: Adil Arora

In this case wines were unattended due to abrupt departure of their resident winemaker.  TWC restored the wines and brought them to good condition. Currently TWC is assisting another entrepreneur to setup a winery, very close to Bangalore, the IT hub gradually becoming a wine producing area as well after the Karnataka government came out with its wine policy.

‘We are providing an ethical service which relates to Indian wine,  made in India from Indian Grapes, by an Indian winemaker but of international standard and we want to be proud to stand out against the best wines in a blind tasting,’ says Prateek Mehra, adding, ‘of course, we are also working with China. In fact I was in Beijing only last week, where we are busy setting up bottling plants for two companies who have bought the equipment from Germany and will buy bulk wine which they will sell as bottled wine in China. Since they have no clue about winemaking and are only investors, we shall be giving them the total tech support.

Further information may be available at www.tastevinwine.com


Subhash Arora

       

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