Wine Tourism in India is getting popular with millennials. They are drinking so much wine that they are in fact changing the pattern of how wine is sold and bought in India, says a leading industry expert.
As the country head of a leading beverage brand in India, what is your take on wine tourism in India?
From my past experience in Sula Vineyards I can say that wine tourism has made Sula a household name in India as we cannot promote alcohol directly but can certainly promote Nashik as the wine capital of India and tourism thereof. Additionally Sula Vineyards initiative got them to the wine tourism map of the world. Yes – it works.
You have earlier led one of the largest wine exporters – Sula Vineyards. Could you take us through your journey into the world of wine industry in India?
I belong to the high spirited group of 40% alcohol. I mean, I work for Spirts, so a two year vacation in the wine trade that too with the market leader was a treat for me. Loved every moment spent.
The Georgia Declaration on Wine Tourism 2016 (UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism) identifies a number of recommendations that would facilitate the growth of wine tourism. Which are the wine tourism aspects India needs to focus on?
The rest of the wine companies are slowly but steadily following the leading footsteps of Sula. Everyone is opening the cellar doors to attract tourists. This is exactly what India needs.
Wine tourism has traditionally been targeted at the luxury clientele. Do you think there is a potential to target millennials for this segment?
Millennials are drinking so much wine that they are actually changing the pattern of how wine is bought and sold. Today wine is sold in a can – it is for them! The serious wine connoisseurs cannot think of consuming a wine which has a screw cap – they are still in love with the cork!
What are the potential bottlenecks the wine industry is facing in India? What could be the solution?
Loan, small margins, cut throat competition is making most smaller wineries close down!. Wine production has become an expensive affair – labour has become scarce hence costly. The wine market is small and this adds to the perils. Consumption only happens in the major metro cities. And brands are many!
What keeps you going as a business leader in the wine industry?
The challenge to outshine men is the industry dominated by them is what keeps me ticking! It’s like winning against the Indian Cricket Team at Eden Gardens!
What do you think are the major milestones for wine tourism in India?
For Rajeev Samant to think of planting grapes for wines in a country where alcohol was just about tolerated and wine culture was non-existent – this itself is a milestone. That was in the year 1998. He did quit his corporate job to do this costly experiment.