Saturday, September 19, 2015


Domestic vintners record 21 per cent sales growth in a year

India’s relatively nascent wine industry, warding off a lingering global economic slowdown, is on a steady high, driven by demographic changes and a growing affluent class.

Wine sales in India rose by 21 per cent from 95 lakh litres in 2013-14 to 1.15 crore litres in 2014-15, according to the all India wine producers association.

Studies by Vinexpo, another leading wine and spirits industry body, has forecast that by 2017 wine sales will grow by 73.5 per cent, translating to an annual consumption of 2.4 million cases.

A number of Indian vintners are going all out to woo tipplers by adopting sophisticated wine making processes, flying in renowned winemakers and using the best quality fruits.

Weathering meltdown of the late 2000s, which led to the crumbling of India’s largest wine company Chateau Indage in 2010, vintners like Nashik’s Sula Vineyard and Grover Zampa Vineyard have found a strong foothold not just on home turf but also overseas.

Says Neeraj Agarwal, executive vice president, Sula Vineyards, “Indians are typically whisky and beer drinkers, but we are now seeing a higher level of sophistication among well-travelled Indian consumers who are striving to catch up with the west.”

He adds: “Besides urbanisation, the main driver of growth in consumption of wines is the rising number of women drinkers. The latter will constitute a huge market for us in the future.” 

“The Indian market is growing at a healthy 20 per cent each year. Thanks to the health benefits of wine and a young population ready to experiment with their drinks, we can expect strong growth in the next five years,” says Ajoy Shaw, chief winemaker, Sula Vineyards.

Harish Bijoor, brand expert and chief executive officer (CEO), Harish Bijoor Consults, says: “The increasing in wine consumption in any country reflects its growing GDP. There is a direct co-relation between the two, signifying a cultural shift. Because of the growing IT-Ites sector, there is more money in the hands of people. Their changing eating out habits are driving the wine industry. Moreover, wine is regarded as the healthiest among all liquor options.”

While Sula Vineyards has about 60 per cent of the market share in the country, Grover Zampa Vineyards enjoys 15 per cent of the pie.

All India wine producers association president Shivaji Ahir recently said the availability of cheaper wines is one of the factors behind rising consumption.

Sumedh Singh Mandla, chief executive officer, Grover Zampa Vineyards, agrees: “The entry-level segment of wine is witnessing an uptick in demand. We never ventured into the category under Rs 500 until recently. But we have now introduced some cheaper wines mainly to boost distribution across India. But our main priority remains the Rs 500-plus category.”

Players like Goa’s Pinsome Wine Industries produces wines that are as cheap as Rs 100 a bottle. The company has a significant market share in the state.

In the elite segment, wines like Sula’s Riesling, Dindori Reserve Shiraz, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Brut and Grover Zampa’s Grover La’ Reserve and Chene Grand Reserve — which are priced between Rs 750 and Rs 1,850 – are the most popular.

In the premium segment, Sula’s Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc are in the Rs 500 to Rs 750 range.

Red wine accounts for more than 60 per cent of the consumption in India. This segment is expected to grow by 71.6 per cent between 2013 and 2017, according to Vinexpo.

Agarwal says that rosé, too, is fast emerging as a go-to drink for warm days and nights. The consumption of white wine is also expected to grow by a healthy 71 per cent.

Indian wines have put foreign exports in the shade in the domestic market. Indian producers have 80 per cent of the market share. The consumption of French wines has fallen by more than 20 per cent over the past year.

Among imported wines, Australian wines have significantly gained ground with brands like Jacob’s Creek, Yellow Tail and Hardy’s. 

“Indian wines are unique in every way possible. India is the only wine producing country in the northern hemisphere that has a winter harvest. The terroir (soil and climate) in Nashik in particular gives Indian wines a distinct taste and bouquet. In fact, the uniqueness of Indian wine has made Sula a popular choice in our export markets,” says Agarwal.

Mandla of Grover Zampa says their products enjoy popularity not just in India, but overseas as well. The company exports to 21 countries, including France, Japan, the UK and New Zealand. 

But the industry has its share of challenges. Being categorised under the liquor segment poses many problems. Moreover, the taboo attached to liquor still exists in certain sections of Indian society.

Says Joseph Pinto, managing partner, Pinsons Wine Industries, Goa, “Marketing the product within the country itself is riddled with difficutlties as many of our states are ‘dry’ states.”

Mandla points to another issue. “Different states have different regulations and impose different duties. Say, if we a product is available for Rs 750 in one state, it would be available for Rs 2,500 in another state. There is no uniformity in policies.”

“There is also a situation where if we want to sell wines produced in Maharashtra in Karnataka, there would be no law for it. Also, In Taml Nadu, for example, we do not have a provision to sell domestically produced wines at all,” adds Mandla.



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