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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Thursday, 27 May 2010 18:50

India Proves it Produces Wine at LIWF

If one thing the London International Wine Fair did, it was to ring the opening bell and announce to the wine world that India also produces wine and has a great future in the international arena, by creating the Brand India Awareness though a joint participation under the umbrella of the IGPB, writes Subhash Arora, a long-time vocal proponent of the concept.

Click For Large View
'Wines of india' Pavillion

‘The vibrations were totally positive-I can’t say there was anything negative about it,’ gushes Cecilia Oldne, Sula Vineyards’ Head of International Business who returned earlier this week with a short stopover at Dubai where the newly opened Armani Hotel has started by stocking their Chenin Blanc and Shiraz.

‘Visitors kept us on our tows right from 9 am till 6 pm when we shut for the day’, she said. Perhaps it was the curiosity factor- many people still don’t know India makes wine and in fact has been making for over 20 years now.

Agrees Ravi Gurnani, Director of York Winery, one of the participant and who has returned with nice things to say. ‘I think in general it was a success. There was a lot of curiosity and positive vibe around the India pavilion. For many people it still is a surprise that India makes wine at all. There is a buzz around brand India right now worldwide.’

The Show was not a pot of honey and gold though.’ it also highlighted how far we lag in the world market both in terms of quality and visibility. Wine-wise, we are on the right path to making better wines, so that feeling should change with time,’ said Ravi, conceding that we need to ‘capitalize on that (positive vibes) through the wines as well’, implying that the quality has to continue improving 

The credit goes fully to the Indian Grape Processing Board which has cut through the baloney and got into action from the day it was born last year. Though nascent, London was the first opportunity it got and used it well to promote Brand India. Although Mr. Rajeshwar Rao, the Joint Secretary of the MOFPI (ministry of Food Processing Industry) could not reach because of the cancellation of the flight due to the volcanic ash, they had their rep in Rajiv Singhal who did a very good job of representing them and participants are full of praise for him.

The merchandising IGPB had organized as give away- bags, pens, brochures etc were all Brand India focused and it was ‘Wines of India’ that was the protagonist. The concept initiated by the Indian Wine Academy in 2006 at Wines for Asia in Singapore, has finally found the right torch-bearers and the exhibitors seem to be quite excited.

Another victim of the Icelandic ash was Abhay Kewadkar, Chief Winemaker and VP for the Four Seasons. He had spent a better part of previous fortnight coordinating with his branding people in London but had to face the flight cancellation too.

Talking to delWine from Bangalore, he was quite upbeat about the response to their stand. ‘Clive was already in London a day earlier as he left from Mumbai. Being our educator, he knows the products very well and he could manage the stand very well. We had many people visit our stand including Oz Clarke who were pleasantly surprised about our wine quality.’

Another person who could not make it to the Show at the last minute was Yatin Patil, the CEO of Vintage Wines due to visa issues. However, they did hire a Sommelier, who manned the stall and conducted the samplings. ‘Our winemaker, Mr. Andrea Vallentinuzzi was also present at the stall. We did get a few leads. I believe the fair was quite busy, and there was a fair amount of enthusiasm for the India Pavilion.’ Says Kiran Patil, his charming wife who looks after the branding and marketing. She was very complimentary towards IGPB ‘for doing a wonderful job in showcasing Brand India, be it co-coordinating with the other wineries, sending samples etc.’

Veral Pancholia of Mercury Winery is equally effusive. ‘Indian Wine showcasing had generated a lot of interest among UK consultants , writers and general trade people,’ he says, adding that their stand was always full of people wanting to know the specs, prices, terms etc and wanting to know if they could import and distribute our wines. ‘As producers we need to concentrate on the quality and consistency and if IGPB takes this positive initiative in aggressive way to promote Wines of India on an international platform at prime wine shows there can be few success stories within our industry in near future,’ he says.

The smartest thing the IGPB did was to engage Steven Spurrier to conduct the Masterclass for Indian Wines. It was an extremely popular event with a full house that saw many people go away disappointed. He talked about Indian wines and presented 9 for tasting- each producer was invited to present one of his wines- the ninth being Grover Vineyards. ‘We felt very bad that Grover could not take part in the Show as they had been late in reverting to us due to some problems at their end. Since we had given the invite on a first-come-first-served basis, we had to regret. But the support they have given to the Board made us try and at least get one of their wines sampled,’ says Mrs. Vinod Kotwal, CEO of the Board and a Director in the Ministry.

Rajeev Samant from Sula who had been there at the Show on all days, presented the new Sula Reserve Dindori Viognier which was a hit with the attendees. ‘Sula already has an importer- Hallgarten, but we are very happy that new potential clients could also come. Benares House and Gaylord House which already stock their wines were there but also  many sommeliers and importers from the rest of the world,’ Says Cecilia.

‘I have no doubt that our participation here will result in additional listings in many other prestigious restaurant sin UK, said a beaming Rajeev- the brand ambassador for Sula wines (and the CEO-owner).

Talking of CEO- owners, it was heartening to see Vikrant Chougule, son of Mr. Sham  Chougule who is also the Chairman of the Board and Indage, belying any wicked and wishful thoughts from the mind of many that Indage is about to wind up its operation. A major setback, but a company like Indage should be capable of revival and his presence should encourage the creditors and the employees who have not been paid salaries that all is not lost.

The eight wineries that took part at the Show are Sula, Four Seasons, Indage, Mercury, Renaissance,Valle de Vin, Vintage Wines and York

It was a great success so far as the maiden presence is concerned. But it would be a fatal error if the producers think that the orders will start streaming in and if India will become the wine super power by the end of the decade. As Gurnani of York concedes, ‘since we already had an importer for UK, it helps build interest from distributors from other parts of the country and restaurants. But trying to convert that interest into business is now the challenge for us.’

Click For Large View
Producers with Steven Spurrier at the Masterclass

Taking part in such shows is not a one time effort. IGPB must build up on it and take part in other shows and also start helping wineries send samples for tasting at international wine competitions. Tasting in front of an expectant producer is one thing, judging the wines blind and giving an honest and instant opinion is another.

One thing is for sure. The Board won’t have to run to the producers for participation any more. The success in Hong Kong and London has amply shown that one can not sit on the butt and sing songs from the winery rooftop or through some journalists’ pens but it is a jungle out there and being a part of these shows is only one way of getting to the top. Sula for one has already taken the decision, Grover wont be so laid back next time and the doubting Thomases may be disappointed as their number may not come-unless the IGPB becomes pro-active and starts negotiating for bigger space and subsidize the producers slightly less

DelWine salutes the Indian Grape Processing Board for a job well done And as Veral Pancholia says ‘Cheers on the first Step towards the Right Direction!’

Subhash Arora



Jayakuamr Says:

i am Indian studying my wine marketing in France i am totally excited about my country wine.they will make a big leap in terms of quality also will bring the future to our wine market..

Posted @ June 14, 2010 17:20


Pieter Louw Says:

Congratulations India for showcasing your wines at an international event. I had the pleasure of tasting India wines some 3 years ago and could not understand your quiet international profile. Pieter Louw, South Africa

Posted @ June 09, 2010 10:45


B.Shankaranarayan Says:

Very heartening to read that Indian wines are getting visibility abroad. Good business will surely follow.

Posted @ June 03, 2010 12:36


Bill Crane Says:

Congratulations to all involved at the Wines of India stand at the LIWF. The stand was a buzz of excitement and presenting Indian food alongside the wine was a fantastic idea. A special mention should be forwarded to the the staff from Ganapati Restaurants. This I think should be the obvious entry method of Indian wines to the UK - via Indian Restaurants - matching Indian wine with Indian food. Kind regards Bill Crane

Posted @ June 01, 2010 11:09


Vivek Says:

It is always good to see indian wines at an international stage, making a point and sending a message out that India makes wine and reasonably good wines. Vivek Napier, Hawke's Bay

Posted @ May 31, 2010 15:15


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