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Delhi Wine Club
Escaping to Goa Grape Escapade 2011

Posted: Wednesday, 02 February 2011 17:36

Escaping to Goa Grape Escapade 2011

The seventh edition of the Goa Grape Escapade dubbed as the Food and Lifestyle Festival Goa, went off successfully despite the earlier unwarranted protests by a few concerned overzealous ladies, with several well known Indian wineries like Sula, Big Banyan. Vintage and Zampa carrying the torch for the domestic producers while Prestige Wines and Kingfisher Bohemia showcased imported wines.

The festival was jointly organised by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation and Department of Tourism and held every evening between 27-30 January at the Inox courtyard in Panjim city. It has now become an annual event in the entertaining section of Goa’s calendar.

Participating Wineries

Besides Sula, Big Banyan, Vintage Wines (Reveilo) and Valley de Vin (Zampa), Bio, Pause, Tonia (Goan winery), A D Wines, Aditya, Vallonne representing the domestic industry, Prestige Wines (JV of Thapar and Torres groups) showcased their international range while UB was represented through its brewery division that imports Kingfisher Bohemia from South Africa. Indage was represented by its distributor Brews and Spirits and it could not be ascertained if the winery had authorized them to participate on their behalf, or they were trying to get rid of their old stocks.

The 4-day fest not only had complimentary wine tastings with the option of buying wines by the glass or bottles at discounts and other incentives, but it also had several entertaining features like fashion shows, live music and dances.

True Spirit of Goa

Says Kawaljeet Singh, National Sales Manager of Goa-based, Bangalore headquartered Big Banyan Winery, ‘although many expats turn up for this event every year, this time there were noticeably many more Indian visitors and only a few foreigners.’

If one has any doubt of Goans’ penchant for good life. Kiran Patil, marketing manager and partner of Vintage Wines selling Reveilo label expounds, ‘one could feel the true spirit of Goa come alive during the four day festival set in an absolute carnival kind of an atmosphere. The festival just keeps getting better and better, where people come in exponentially increasing numbers year after year to have a gala time and thoroughly enjoy themselves with time on hand- the events go on almost till midnight’, adding ‘so far it is the only food and wine event in Goa held annually. However, the stupendous success of this event has been a source of inspiration and will now kick-start many more such events in Goa.’

Changing Trends

A wine fest like this can be a great indicator of the changing trends for the producers. Tonia Winery is a local winery owned by the son-of-the-soil Mario Sequeira. This participants feels, ‘we have noticed that the number of people trying out the dry wines has been increasing many- fold year on year. This year we are very happy to report that our Kandara reds- Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon were well appreciated and we did manage to have some good sales during the event.’

Kawaljeet agrees, ‘we noticed people being more appreciative and knowledgeable about wines than last year. They were more forthcoming in their preference for varietals and not just whites and reds as before. There was more demand for drier whites and fruitier reds than last year. This is a good sign for a positive customer evolution although the sales of sweeter wines like our Rose and Bellissima dessert wine were more in absolute terms.’

Evolving Palates

Producers generally concur that the palates of their customers have been evolving. ‘Customers initiated discussions about wines and differences from one brand to another. When encouraged, they were able to distinguish broadly good wines from bad. Some wines at the show were quite off and oxidized, I felt and I was glad to know they were able to recognise.’ He added that people appreciated a price-value proposition more this time and word of mouth spread in the festival.

Zampa had participated for the third time this year, says Sumit Jaiswal, Senior Manager Marketing. ‘We had some loyal visitors who found the stall and sat in a cozy corner. Lot of visitors even remembered what they had tasted before and even asked for the same wines, which is a good evolution.  The best part was that there were a lot less bargain hunters at Zampa's stall this time which is a great sign to us,’ he says.

Imported Wines

Keeping in tune with the changing times, the Escapade has started attracting importers as well, giving the visitors an opportunity to taste a variety of ‘phoreign’. Delhi based Prestige Wines had not only Sumit Sehgal, National Head of Marketing attend the show on all days, but Marc Perello, their Spanish brand  ambassador as well, who came from Mumbai to showcase their wines. ‘We wanted visitors to our stall to have a unique experience as we were the only importer,’ says Sumit, adding that they were very aggressive in giving special prices-at Rs.600 a bottle, the Chilean San Medin was undoubtedly the Best Buy of the Escapade and was extremely popular with the buyers.

Sehgal treats Kingfisher Bohemia perhaps as an Indian entity-Kingfisher being a popular Indian brand for beer. Imported from South Africa, this entry level wine is being distributed by the Breweries Division of UB. Samar Singh Sheikhawat, Head of Marketing for United Breweries, says, “The Grape Escapade is a wonderful platform to showcase our South African varieties – Pinotage Red, Rosé and Chenin Blanc- Chardonnay. We received a good response from the visitors, as they are fruity and approachable and priced attractively. We look forward to more such platforms for wine tasting and promotion of the wine culture in the other metro cities as well.’

Time to stock up

The Grape Escapade provided an opportunity for people to buy wines after tasting at discounts or get promotional goodies like Bordeaux or a Burgundy wine glass from Big Banyan for each bottle purchased while Zampa offered a discount of 10% yet sold 20% more this year, according to Jaiswal.

The fest had a downside as well. Some stalls were apparently selling old, undrinkable stock of oxidized and dead wines. No amount of discount would justify the sale of these stocks at such forums to the unsuspecting customers who would land up with bad experience about wine taste.Hopefully, the word of mouth would have acted as some deterrent and the damage would have been limited.

No Untoward Incidents

About 15, 000 people showed up. There was no reported case of misbehavior, according to the exhibitors, allaying the fears of the ladies who had earlier protested against serving the alcohol. If they had taken the trouble of attending some of the wine appreciation sessions held in the evening, they would have realised that wine is not alcohol in the derogatory sense and some of them might even have enjoyed their first sip. But the cardinal rule followed by wine connoisseurs of never pushing that first sip without the person really willing to do it, might still have kept some of them at bay.

In fact, when quizzed about the protests, Kawaljeet said,’ I had frankly read about it in an earlier edition of delWine but had already forgotten about it till you reminded me. To the best of my knowledge there were no protests either and the event went off very smoothly.’

Jaiswal agrees and says, ‘the guests were well-behaved and everyone was either grooving to the music or relaxing at a table with a glass of wine, accompanied by food.’

Future Escapades

Undoubtedly, this Escapade has become part of the Goa annual calendar. The organisers must now get the local hotels and resorts to become more participative and should promote the event. It goes without saying that there would not be any alcohol (hard liquor) served at the venue. The space requirement is increasing every year and more space needs to be allocated as even this year crowd movement became difficult at times.

The event also drew a lot of crowd from Pune, Bangalore and Mumbai who rushed to attend the fest brought to perfection by complete entertainment. Hopefully, Delhi wine lovers will also get charmed into visiting Goa at the time of Grape Escapade rather than at Christmas and New Year’s when the airfares and hotel tariffs are astronomical.

Subhash Arora



kapil deo Says:

“ Why are you serving red wine chilled??” , “ You should allow red wine to breath more”, “ NO….this is not a real cabernet”, “Do you call it a merlot???”, “ Their sauvignon is quit fine”
These are few seldom found conversations in India, I was listening very often in Goa Grape escaped 2011. Few of them were even directed towards me ( or my wines) making me feel embarrassed at times, but this embarrassment was satisfactory. There was a satisfaction to find so many wine critics in India and for my surprise a large number of them were Indians. Finding critics is an indication of success. I could recall a dialogue from Hindi Movie Guru, “ Jab log tumhare bare mein bolane lage to samjho tarraqi kar rahe ho” ( “ If people starts talking about you that means you are making progress”) I have always tried to justified all Indian wines by saying these have their Indianess in its taste. But if people would look to match genuine varietal taste then it is a good sign indeed. I am not bothered if it will make me work harder on my wines but it will open doors for new opportunity.
The best part of Grape Escaped was the crowd. This was not the first time I came across genuine wine lovers. This is quit common to any wine festival. But I am certainly overwhelmed by the number. The crowd was phenomenal all four days.
The dazzling music and dance floor set up the mood and ray of different wines to match the food. The experience was certainly enhanced by plenty of gorgeous faces around to shine, but nothing could really overshadow the beautiful creation of human being termed as WINE !!

Posted @ February 07, 2011 13:34


Maureen Kerleau Says:

Good to see it went off so well Kawaljeet - such a positive response is always encouraging - let's try to make the Bangalore Wine Festival mid March even bigger and better !!

Posted @ February 05, 2011 10:10


Kawaljeet Singh Says:

Dear Mr Arora A well written and factually redolent article..continuing the Delwine tradition The GTDC deserves to be praised for continuing with the tradition of Grape Escapade which is becoming an annual event, looked forward to by both wine companies and customers. The level of engagement, energy levels and festivities are true to the Goan tradition of merriment. I however request GTDCtotake it tothe next level by making this event more inclusive by promoting this as a Grape Escapade celebration week or fortnight and declare this event on various internationaland nationalcommunications of GTDC with participation from various hotels, restaurants, tour operators. Create and promote special menus, showcasing Goan cusine, involve more tourists, organize heritage walks leading to the venue. for wine companies to passon special prices and discounts to consumers to envourage morepurchases and indulgence in the healthy beverage, rationalization of stall rents to more easily affordable levels. Expansion of venue space,include more performances including classical dances etc couldbe considered. The ideas are aplenty and am sure Big Banyan and other wine companies would be delighted to brainstorm together on how to take this festival of Goan merriment to higher levels Regards Kawaljeet Singh Head Marketing Big Banyan Wines

Posted @ February 04, 2011 12:45


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