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WOW: Top Ten Women of Wine in India 2013-Sonal Holland of ITC Hotels

Posted: Wednesday, 21 August 2013 10:41

WOW: Top Ten Women of Wine in India 2013-Sonal Holland of ITC Hotels

Aug 21: Indian wine industry is at a nascent stage but many women have taken the plunge in the field of winemaking, marketing, education and journalism, with varying degrees of success. We have brought the first-ever list of Top Ten Women of Wine in India 2013: WOW. We have refrained from ranking them and kept it generally in alphabetical order. This time Subhash Arora focuses on the educator Sonal Holland, All India Head of Beverages for ITC Hotels

Click For Large ViewMeet Sonal Holland-one of India’s highest qualified wine persons, the first Indian to be enrolled for the highly coveted Master of Wine programme and potentially the first MW from India, currently the Corporate Head - Wine & Beverages for ITC Hotels, one of India’s leading chain of luxury hotels.

I met Sonal first in Mumbai at a tasting I had conducted in Delhi and Mumbai for a big Italian co-operative consortium in 2008. She was quite participative and seemed to enjoy the seminar and tasting. Later, she requested a meeting and we met over coffee at the Taj Mahal Hotel where I had organised the wine seminar. She had just finished her WSET 2 then.

She was vivacious, seemingly ambitious and yearning to be highly qualified in wines. She wanted to write about wines, start a wine club, and teach about wine or any combination. She already had experience in the hospitality industry and wine was her passion. With an MBA tucked under her belt along with several other certifications, she was keen to study more about wines despite being married - to a British financial expert living in Mumbai, Andrew Holland, who supported her ambitions whole-heartedly, she said.

After that I met Sonal briefly on a few occasions in Mumbai at wine events. Meanwhile, she opened the Sonal Holland Wine Academy in 2009 and had also done her diploma-level 4, completed by only a handful of Indians so far. When she was accepted as a student for Master of Wine last year, I sent her a congratulatory message. While thanking me she reminded me that I had been very encouraging about her pursuing the MW studies. ‘You were the only one in the industry who was so supportive at the time. You said, if I wanted to qualify, I must go all the way to becoming a Master of Wine. Don't stop halfway. If you take your foot off the pedal, you will lose the momentum.’

Apparently she kept pedaling. ‘It has been a fantastic journey so far and I thank you even today for your fantastic advice. There were always so many reasons and excuses to not study and not take exams. My daughter who is now 4 years old has traveled this wine journey with me too,’ she said.

It has been very demanding in terms of time and money; traveling multiple times to London and staying there is expensive. Wine availability has been so limited in India. Traveling to vineyards across the world and experiencing the global wine industry has been her top priority.  

Sonal Holland Wine Academy started offering WSET certificate programs up to Level 3 (according to the WSET rules, a Level 4 qualified person is accredited to teach up to Level-3 normally; sometimes Level 4 as well). She started getting a lot of interest from the hospitality, airline and wine
trade. She has been on the judging panel of several international wine competitions, and has authored articles for various wine magazines and other lifestyle publications.

Suddenly this year, ITC Hotels offered her a fabulous opportunity to head their wine and beverage program across the ITC Hotels Group. ‘As a wine professional it offers me an opportunity to utilize my skills, knowledge and talent to create something credible and progressive not just for ITC Hotels but for the whole industry as a benchmark’.

WOW! We welcome Sonal Holland to delWine’s first-ever Top Ten ‘Women Of Wine’ List in India.

Subhash Arora

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Tags: Sonal Holland, ITC Hotels, Sonal Holland Wine Academy, WSET



Bharat Deshmukh Says:

Simply want to congratulate Sonal

Posted @ May 11, 2016 12:50


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