Feb 03: Getting manic to write about Mr Sharad Phadnis, President of Nagpur Wine Club (NWC) and the success stories of the wine club in India’s orange city Nagpur on the occasion of Club’s 10th Anniversary on 19 January, 2021, our guest writer Sheetal Kadam says she has always enjoyed interacting with him about wines and it was a pleasure meeting him last at the delWine Excellence Awards 2019 organised by the Indian Wine Academy and the Delhi Wine Club at Hotel Pullman Aerocity in Delhi and discussing the club activities
Wine Ratna from India’s Orange city
Sharadji has gathered 18 years of experience in home winemaking; he is a founder of Nobel Wine Academy where he conducts courses on Home Wine Making and other aspects of wine. He believes making own fruit wines is tremendously creative and meditative; he draws immense pleasure in sharing the final bottled product with his friends. Further, he quenches his thirst for learning wines by achieving Level 2 Awards in Wine (WSET) at 67. He takes pride in Promoting Indian Wines and has also been a regular visitor to the Indian Wine Day event on 16 November at the Lalit Hotel, Delhi.
Sharadji says, “I acquired the knowledge of wine as passion, whereas imparting my knowledge of wine to others through various activities gives me immense pleasure, and exactly why I established the Nagpur Wine Club which genuinely exposed me to the real big world of wine beyond the experience of home winemaking. As I dive into exploring the wine, I find newer treasures to offer the members’ innovative wine activities. I have been fortunate to visit major wineries in India and a few in Australia, as I get to know the topmost winemakers in India. All this gives tremendous satisfaction which enhances the Club’s reputation”.
Establishment, Membership and Wine and Initiatives at NWC
The NWC was established on 19th January 2011, with just 11 wine enthusiasts as founding members. These wine lovers joined together, with a vision to promote wine culture, when the Indian Wine Industry was still in the nascent stage of its growth.
Sharadji expresses the vision and motto of the Club, “in India, the word ‘Wine’ is still misunderstood and likened to other spirits – daaru, so to say. Therefore, it was a simple but profound vision to remove this misperception from people's minds and spread awareness about wine, its varied culture, ethos and etiquettes, vis a vis the other distilled spirits”.
Anybody above the legal drinking age (25 years) can become the club member. The Club offers only one membership category: becoming a life member with a fee subject to change every two years. The board takes the call on the membership fee and aspiring members. The Club organises four quarterly Wine and Dine events for members and invitees, with an annual Nagpur Wine and Food Festival – to promote wines and educate people about wines.
NWC offers a wide range of Indian wines to their club members for appreciation at all their events. Producers from across Maharashtra showcase their range of wines at NWC annual festival, generally hosted in January. Every year, they invite seven to eight wineries to participate and install their stalls at the festival. They showcase roughly 50-60 old and new styles of wines.
The annual event is open for all. People from Nagpur and surrounding cities come over, drawn by the lure of finding good wines at one place and fun. The annual Wine and Dine festival has become the much-awaited event in the Orange city and is one of the major wine events in India. On average, a footfall of 1400-1500 people gets registered at the wine festival. The participants experience grape stomping during the festival and Live music to enjoy for the evenings. Wines are available at significant discounts. The Club organises Master Classes to educate people on wines' different aspects – like colour, aromas, tastes, notes. However, it is open only to the club members.
Only Indigenous Wines
NWC believes in promoting Indian wines at all their events, as they believe the Indian wines are getting better in quality and style. Till date, 52 quarterly events and seven annual wine and dine festivals have taken place. Indian wines are being awarded at international wine competitions at affordable prices in comparison to other international brands. The Club majorly promotes Sula, Grover and Fratelli, also fruit wines from the manufacturers like Rio, Fruzzante and Rhythm.
NWC Success Story
A group of business professionals and some erudite former bureaucrats manage the Club. Every member of the Club is committed to performing his or her role, basically encouraging teamwork. They enhance inter-member communication and implement new ideas to keep the members happy for the Club to expand their activities.
The NWC has printed two members’ directories, made available free within the Club, to know each other and independently keep in touch. The NWC remains in constant touch with every member other than the events through their social media channels, by feeding the members with relevant information that would upgrade their knowledge.
Incredible discounts on wines are generally offered to the club members. NWC creates an excellent platform for the wineries to find wine aspirants and customers. The wine consumers can stock the wines at discounted rates, available at the quarterly events. The entry to the annual festival is free to every member and spouse. There is a separate wing for women members managed by them.
I believe the key to running a successful wine club depends on the person-in-charge of the administrative affairs. Also discounted prices for wines can undoubtedly attract the members. A sound financial status to subsidise the members' events is a must, as achieved by gathering the membership fees. On top of it promoting only the Indian wines is critical unless someone is wholeheartedly passionate about it. A satisfied member, who feels the Club belongs to him, will, in turn, bring in more members, so the tribe grows.
Mumbai-based Sheetal Kadam is a graduate in Agriculture with an MBA in International Business. She is also a Certified Level 3 in WSET and a Certified Cultore by Alfiere Italico- Wine, a certified wine course designed and organised internationally by Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IICCI) outside Italy, in Mumbai. She has worked with Indian wine producers in marketing in Pune for a year. She was part of the delegation organised by IICCI as a member of Italics Wine Club- Mumbai Chapter.
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