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India hears calls for cohesion

Published:  23 March, 2009

The Indian wine industry must share research and educate the Indian consumer about wine if it is to survive.

The lack of cohesion amongst the trade is harming the industry, delegates heard at the India International Wine Fair held in Mumbai.

Domestic players were urged to utilise The National Grape Processing Board, launched last month and create 'brand India to showcase the country's different regions and styles worldwide.

Nine out of 10 domestic wineries are reported to be in trouble especially those with an over reliance on grape growers, delegates heard.

Grape juice from the 2008 harvest is still in tanks leaving little room for the 2009 harvest, Sula chief executive officer Rajeev Samant said.

He said domestic players can use the excess to launch value wines at price points of 200 rupees a bottle and must develop wine tourism to ensure survival. "This is where we are seeing the majority of our sales," he said.

Angela Mount, UK based food and wine expert, told delegates: "Domestic players should form cross functional programmes with wine boards such as Wines of California to improve quality in the vineyards."

Mount said the growing number of Wine clubs and tastings held in Indian cities are also vital to educating the masses with Indian food and wine matching key to the success of the industry.

"I challenge leading domestic brands to tap into the Indian restaurant markets in India and the UK, which is crying out for good quality Indian wines," she said.

"If the 1% of the 1billion population currently drinking wine also buys one more bottle each year that will double the wine market to 20million people. That is my challenge to the industry."

Vishal Kadakia, chief executive officer of distributor Wine Park, added: "New hotels, restaurants are being developed despite the recession. But pricing is important and wine must be made accessible."

Hotels were criticised for hiking wine prices. Yellow Tail and Oxford Landing can be sold for as much as US$119.

He urged importers to promote regionality as affluent Indians looked for wines based on regions such as Champagne, Chianti and Bordeaux irrespective of brand names.