Looking for a fill – Wine in India

by Dave

Sangiovese grapes in a vineyard of Montalcino,...Image via Wikipedia

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In a sense, the Indian Premier League, whose widespread impact on cricket is still being assessed, also marked a dramatic “coming out” of wine when it was served to spectators at the tournament’s inaugural match in Bangalore on April 18. That was just two months after United Spirits Ltd, or USL, the flagship of Vijay Mallya‘s UB Group, which includes the airline Kingfisher and IPL’s Bangalore franchise, turned its attention to expanding the wine business in India.However, in February, it uncorked a plunge into wine with the launch of Zinzi, targeted at the youth and novice drinkers. The next five years will see the company sinking Rs 100 crore in this segment.

Of this, about Rs 80 crore will go into USL’s subsidiary, Four Seasons Wines Ltd. USL owns 51 per cent equity in Four Seasons Wines while the farmers of Maharashtra’s Baramati region own the rest.

Four Seasons Wines will roll out six varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Zinfandel & Blush with the target of 1 million cases when the winery reaches full capacity. Also on the cards are oak barreled & sparkling wines, which are expected to be launched later this year and next year.

“The wine market’s base in India is small — hardly 1 per cent of the total spirits sales, while in European countries it is almost 50 per cent. But there is huge potential of expanding the market and we are here to tap that potential,” says Abhay Kewadkar, business head and chief wine maker, USL.

Pulling out all the corks
The per capita consumption of wine in the country is a paltry 10 mililitres, far below France’s 73 litres. Even the world’s average per capita consumption is much higher at 4 litres. Spirits fare better, but their per capita consumption of 1.05 litres, too, is below the global average of 3.04 litres.

However, according to a report by Rabobank International, the Indian wine market is expected to grow by 25 to 30 per cent by 2010, making it the fastest-growing industry in the country.

The Indian Wine Academy attributes the growth to the 250 million middle class that has the potential to consume 250 million litres of wine a year at just a litre per person.

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