Sep 08: Ten years ago when Pune based Ashwini Awate did her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Economics, little did she realise that one day she would do Masters Vintage in Vine and Wine from a French University that would catapult her into the male dominated Indian wine world. Subhash Arora profiles the young woman who hopes to carve out a niche for her.
She is the first Indian woman to participate in Masters Vintage in Vine and Wine Management course in the University of Angers in Bordeaux and after submitting her thesis this Monday is set to come home and enter the Indian world of vine and wine.
She had been admitted in the course under the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship programme awarded by the European Union to non-European students desirous of pursuing higher education in the EU.
Masters Vintage in Vine and Wine Management
The programme is coordinated by ‘Ecole Superieur d’Agriculture d’Angers, France. It is a two year course split into four semesters held in three universities: ESA Angers- France, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Piacenza in Italy and Universidad Politecnica, Valencia, Spain.
The initial six months of training are held in France, where the basics of 'terroir' management are taught, dealing with the traditions, culture and environmental factors related to vintage. This is followed by a three-month course in marketing, taught by faculty members from across the world.
The next part of the course is conducted in Italy, where students learn viticulture at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Piacenza. "This also includes study tours to northern Italy, Hungary and Switzerland,’ says Ashwini.
The last part of the theory session includes a module on Oenology from Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. Each student gets a chance to experience a harvest and make one's own wine. This she says, ’was an enriching experience’.
The study is rounded off with a six month internship in Europe. Her class has been a group of 30 students from 21 different nationalities including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Hungary, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Thesis is done
Ashwini has just completed her thesis which she presented on Monday. The subject of her thesis was very topical-‘Importance of Bordeaux wines in the retail trade in India’. With Retail opening in a big way in Maharashtra and other progressive states in India, she seems to have had good foresight selecting the topic.
‘The initial reviews by the Grands Chais de France management are very good and encouraging,’ she tells me. ‘I write this to let you know that I defended my thesis yesterday at the University of Angers and it went off very well. The teaching staff and the student have given an excellent feedback,’ she wrote to me from Bordeaux yesterday.
On Indian Youth
‘With my understanding of European youth, our youth is miles ahead of them in terms of IQ. Young people only need the right motivation and guidance, they can conquer the world,’ she says, adding ‘Our youth needs to be given a spark; to realise their complete potential , they need to come out of the" aati kya Khandala" syndrome, and I am sure that writers like you are doing so’.
Two boys from Pune region are joining the Masters programme starting Oct 2008, thanks to an article on her by a marathi paper during her Diwali vacations last year (delWine had written about her earlier, in September and had received many enquiries about here whereabouts).
‘With my little guidance and motivation these boys have cleared the interview and have already landed here, four months in advance, to attend a French language course.’ ‘To give them guidance, was my social responsibility, I suppose’, she adds.
Ashwini Patil nee Avate
Ashwini Patil Navate hails from Pune in Maharashtra which has seen a phenomenal growth of wine consumption recently, jumping to 90,000 liters in April-July 2007 from 55,000 litres in the same period in 2006, registering a growth of 62%.
Besides her mother tongue Marathi and the ‘national’ languages Hindi and English she is fluent in French (pre-requirement of the course) and German. She has also been learning Italian and has a good knowledge of Creole from Mauritius.
She has travelled extensively and trekked across India and in the Alps. She has been part of expeditions to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. She also Back-packed across Europe: Switzerland, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Morocco and Mauritius. She has also attended successfully a scuba diving camp, off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands.
Our young bachelor wine enthusiast readers might be disappointed to know that the young lady is already married to Lt Commander Satyajeet Avate, a Naval officer based in Pune.
After her return, armed with the International Vintage Masters from the French University, Ashwini is all set to catapult into the Indian and international wine scene. With the vast experience in different trades for almost a decade, she is ready to take on the challenges of wine industry.
Awate already has a couple of good job offers from multinationals but she plans to set up a women's wine cooperative to benefit women's labour force involved in this industry. She is also in the process of setting up her own wine import venture, ‘Green Thumb Wines’ which will have a wide portfolio of international wines of good quality.
She insists that ‘the ever increasing Indian wine market should get their price's worth, as often some cheap Europe wines are circulated as the best! I am also keen on sharing my experiences of visiting wineries across Europe on small screen.
Ashwini Avate might be green so far as the business experience goes but for her education, vision and enthusiasm she gets our thumbs up.
July 17, 2008
For details regarding the course, click here: http://masters.groupe-esa.com
Ashwini seems to have been lost to the wine world because of family constraints. Suddenly, out of the blue, Ashwini Patil connected with delWine from Goa today. The mother of 2 boys, she plans to be back with fervour. Here's looking at you, kid!! (borrowed from Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca) Welcome back to the Indian world of wine. I am sure you can use your wine knowledge to promote wine education. We are still in the dark in the Indian wine world but I can see the morning rays of the sun and hope that people are waking up. Good luck in your endeavours. Cheers!Jai Ho!! Editor