Indian wineries have started to respond to next generation consumer trends by focusing on approachability, affordability and sustainability.
The market, which has introduced the use of cans and spritzers to avoid snobbery, has, according to reports, been much revitalized by a resurgence in Indian viticulture that occurred largely during the pandemic.
The lack of imports during the height of Covid essentially pushed consumers to explore more local wines across many different price brackets. As a result, the brands that commanded the most attention gave wine sales across the marketplace an uptick, which is good news for an industry centered around celebratory occasions.
Amidst a rosé renaissance, there has also reportedly been a focus on sustainability and a growing base of enthusiastic consumers. As such, the industry is expected to grow by US$274 million by 2026, with a 29.3% year-on-year growth in 2022, according to a recent report by global research and advisory company Technavio.
Chaitanya Rathi, COO of Sula Vineyards headquartered in Nashik, said: “Wine consumption via retail and at home has seen a steady increase during the last two years; currently almost three quarters of our sales are off-trade, and only one quarter is on-trade.”
At Fratelli wines, based in Akluj, Maharashtra, home delivery boosted its sales lockdowns, but, “once stores opened, we witnessed people across the board, prefer browsing through wine selections and are back at big stores,” said Jayanth Bharathi, DGM, Marketing at Fratelli Wines.
The All India Wine Producers Association, headed by Jagdish Holkar, has benefited from the rationalization of excise taxes and duties in Maharashtra and West Bengal, but, it is alleged that the industry wants a separate category for wine in the excise lexicon.
Holkar said: “Wine can be removed from the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) category, and giving us a separate bracket will be good for business. Currently a majority of our sales come from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and the state of Goa, but removing inter-state barriers will be key in making Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and other cities big wine markets, as well”.
Gaurav Sekhri, the managing director of Fratelli Wines, admitted that they too have noticed rosé selling rapidly and explained: “Rosé works well with the approachability of a white, and flavor complexity of a red. Our Shiraz Rose at ₹800 and M/S Rose at ₹1,250 (Maharashtra) have been very popular.”
Sekhri added: “Spritzers with 8% ABV are lighter than wines and great on their own or even as mixers with gin or vodka”.
Also, one of the country’s oldest wine makers, Grover Zampa, with vineyards in the Nandi Hills, Karnataka and Nashik, Maharashtra, has navigated the pandemic with the launch of his Signet Collection
Signet is India’s first wine range to be aged in foudres, amphoras (two-handled pots with a neck narrower than the body, used as decanters in ancient Greece), and concrete tanks.
Sumit Jaiswal, AVP, marketing and EXIM st Grover Zampa said: “Wine being a living liquid, we had to be careful of the amount of time it spent in tanks and bottles, letting the sommeliers do their bit as we dealt with logistic challenges” .