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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Saturday, February 06 2010. 12:53

UB Pioneering Promos in Home State

Bangalore-based UB group is planning several pro-active steps to market its wine in the state of Karnataka where they are treated as outsiders. They are helping entrepreneurs to set up wine bars and wine boutiques including one of their own to be opened during the next couple of weeks, writes Subhash Arora

There is a cafeteria in side the food court in the Manyata Tech park where UB has helped Orange Peel receive a license for a wine tavern. Daddy’s Deli, a Parsi cuisine fine dining restaurant is another one which has benefitted from the scheme announced last year allowing the opening of wine taverns at an annual license fee of Rs.5,000 only. Another outlet in Esteem Mall is coming up.

‘Twenty such licenses have been obtained since the policy was announced while another twenty or so are in the pipeline. We are hoping to help sixty more to spring up in the next 6 months,’ says Kewadkar. But what is in it for UB? ‘Firstly, we are interested in opening up the market. We are not interested in fighting for an increase in the share of a small pie but to increase the size of the pie. Many stand alone restaurants cannot afford to pay the annual liquor license fee of Rs.700,000 while there are other family type restaurants which don’t want to serve alcohol or any liquor but are ok with wine. By helping them come up, we hope to initiate new wine consumers.’

It may be surprising that UB is not competitive in prices in its home state where Grover and Kinwa seem to be ruling the roost as sons-of-the-soil. It is ironic that Mumbai based Kapil Grover is treated an outsider in his own home state Maharashtra but as a local in Karnataka because of the winery being located here.

‘We are hoping that the two states will come to truce and we shall be treated at par. Helping these new taverns will help us being ready for the expected policy change,’ he says. Similarly UB is also helping the new wine boutiques to come up at an annual fee of only Rs.5,000. In fact, UB is opening a boutique of its own where they shall retail their own domestic wines as well as those from their imported wine portfolio. Unwilling to share its name which will be finalized only next week, he says, ‘we shall be ready to launch the same in the UB City during the next couple of weeks.

The perplexed non-India readers might be aware that marketing of alcohol is a state subject and each state sets its own policies. It considers entry of alcoholic beverages into the state as an import. That is why Bangalore based UB is treated a foreigner in Bangalore for its Four Seasons wines and Mumbai based Grover is treated a foreigner in Maharashtra for its Grover range. Due to the discriminatory policy of Maharashtra, Karnataka had retaliated last year, putting the consumers at a disadvantage. Then there are states like Delhi which treat both states as outsiders and levy special extra excise duties. Whereas Karnataka might have about a hundred wine taverns within 12-18 months of announcing its policies, Delhi is still dithering about issuing similar licenses or even allowing the sale of wine in department stores; such is the Indian Paradox.

UB has been gearing up for other promotional activities like supporting the wine diploma programme of the Karnataka based Christ College where they are offering wine, visits of winemakers and viticulturists and provide other logistical support, says Abhay.

At the winery in Baramati, wine tourism programme will be launched in April this year when the 40- room resort with a spa and vinotherapy and 4 suites and a swimming pool will be open to public along with a tasting room and a wine boutique where one can buy wine at special rates. One can even drive from Pune in an hour and a half, adds Kewadkar. Following the foot-steps of Sula which pioneered such eno-tourism in the state, the company hopes to even surpass them in its infra-structure.

UB has also taken up with the Karnataka Wine Board which organises wine carnivals to allow pan India wineries to showcase their products. In the first such festival last year, only wines from Karnataka were allowed. ‘There was to be one such festival between 10-15 February where we were hoping to be allowed to take part but I think it has been postponed,’ he says.
In a conversation with delWine, Abhay was reluctant to disclose the expected sales in 2009-10 as the figures are still under review, but he was optimistic about touching 1million bottles in 2010-11, 60% of the production being Four Seasons and the rest being the low ended Zinzi. If they achieve the target, they would be neck to neck with Grover which is targeting the same figures for 2009-2010, but is likely to cross only next year.

Explaining his reluctance, Abhay says that it is still a small volume when one talks of the UB group size but our effort is on quality and packaging at the present time. We have done well in both the recent wine competitions. Encouraged by our performance, we plan to continue with further improvements before we take off for quantity.’ This could be one reason why they are not planning any new labels accept one Reserve wine in white- either Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier.

With the wine market showing signs of a comeback to 25-30% annual growth from where it got derailed last year due to recession, UB seems to be all set to increase the market and its share.

Subhash Arora



M.BABU Says:

Dear Mr Abhay, I wish Mr Abhay & Team All the best in starting the 4S wine Tavern in Bangalore, & hope they do start even in chennai. M.BABU

Posted @ February 08, 2010 16:36




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