Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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“Consumption of wine is just one tablespoon in India”
Monday, 23 December, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Sula Vineyards, located in Nashik, is 180 km northeast of Mumbai. Founded by Rajeev Samant in 1999, today the brand holds a market share of almost 70% per cent in the wine industry. It is known for introduction of grape varietals such as Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Riesling and Zinfandel to India in the past.

Recently, the company’s Karnataka winery came out with Kadu, a premium wine offering. It's the most significant launch for the brand in the last 10 years. Kadu, meaning 'wild' in Kannada, is India’s first 'wine for a cause' as well as India's first 'wildlife wine.' It is devoted to the cause of tiger conservation.

In an email interview with Manjushree Naik, Chaitanya Rathi, COO, Sula Vineyards, gives an indepth understanding of the wine industry in India as well as their recent launch Kadu. Excerpts:

The wine industry in India is still at a nascent stage. Comment.
The change in drinking habits and rise of the global citizen has definitely altered the perception of Indian wine market but we still have a long way to go. The per capita consumption of wine is about 60 litre in France as compared to just one tablespoon in India! Wine can be seen as complicated, as there are different variants and grape varietals but we believe that it should be fairly straightforward and have taken on the mantle of educating people about wine. We have tied up with global wine education partners like WSET and offer wine trainings to thousands of people each year. We also conduct numerous wine tastings and trainings across India for consumers and hospitality professionals who serve wines on a daily basis. For the wine industry to reach its true potential, we need more people to experience it. Did you know our Tasting Room at the Nashik vineyard is one of the few places globally where people have tried wine for the first time? The good news is, with time, the market is becoming more acceptable and mature to try wine and relish the experience.
Why is it that in spite of being around for more than two decades, the wine culture is yet to take off in the country?
Initially, we started retailing, wine was very unusual. We knew more about whisky, rum, vodka or beer than we did about wine. Over two decades, we have helped make wine more accessible and widely available. Today you can buy a bottle almost anywhere in the country.
Which are the key problems faced by the industry?
Apart from battling the misconceptions and perceptions of complexity surrounding wine, we face issues that plague the alcobev industry, including strict excise controls in several states. However, over time, we have nurtured our business and the market in a way that wine is now among the fastest growing alcobevs in the country. Environmental factors, on the other hand, have a direct impact on our vineyards and the quality of wine. We continue to focus on sustainable business practices throughout our value chain.
Tell us about your growth over the years.
We’re proud to put Nashik on the world wine map as a premium wine region and one of Asia’s major wine producing and tourism regions. Today, the area is known as ‘The Cradle of Indian Wine’ with 80% of India’s wine produced here. We’re the pioneers of wine tourism in the country and have opened the country’s first Tasting

Room in 2005, first vineyard resort - Beyond by Sula, in 2007 and India’s first heritage winery resort - The Source at Sula in 2017.

Accolades or affection, we’ve been blessed to have both from across the globe. Also fondly known as India’s most loved wine brand, we are proud to be one of the most sustainable wineries in the world and are doing more every day. Our rich legacy of two decades is a proof of all things wine but we have a long way to go, like they say, one sip at a time!
How big the wine industry in India and at what rate is it growing?
The Indian wine industry is growing steadily over the years. The change in drinking habits and rise of the global citizen has definitely altered the perception of Indian wine market.

With time, the market is becoming more acceptable and mature to accept innovative products, with people willing to spend and try different beverages. Innovation is accelerating and becoming more crucial than ever. New product launches in alcoholic drinks are favouring the industry’s growth and companies are launching innovative products that reflect the personality of its consumer.
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