When the economy is booming, can raising a toast to it be far behind? Wine sales are growing at 30 per cent per annum, with the current year’s sales estimated at 1.5 million cases of a dozen 750 ml bottles each, say industry officials.
Homegrown wine-makers such as Sula and UB Group are busy “educating” customers on the charms of the heady brews, while building distribution networks. Importers are adding more fizz to the market, which is growing on a low base.
Wine accounts for 1.8 per cent of India’s alcoholic drinks market, dominated by hard spirits (70 per cent) and beer (28 per cent).
Restaurants that serve wine are growing, and what’s more, offer cut-price varieties from remote-yet-exotic places such as Australia, South Africa and California.
“Wine as a category has not gone beyond the metros and we are looking to spread our presence in smaller town and cities,” said Abhay Kewadkar - Chief Winemaker at the UB Group, whose Four Seasons wine range now starts as low as Rs. 275.
Sula Vineyards, the country’s biggest winemaker, is putting together the country’s first vineyard resort at Nashik.
“We foresee at least 20 per cent growth. Our focus is to create awareness through education and convert it into loyalty,” said Sunila Duggal, marketing head.
Neethu Sheth, MD, The Wine Rack, which imports wines from South Africa and distributes them in Maharashtra.
“The numbers have certainly gone up as more people are inclined to try out wines and most stick to it as well,” said Neethu Sheth, managing director at The Wine Rack, an importer. “In the recent times there has been a 20 per cent jump in volumes and the market has picked up once again,” he added.
Imported wines are costlier as they bear customs duty but importers gain as overseas wine-makers unload piled-up stocks in large numbers to Indian importers, industry executives said.
“The Indian market will see growth coming in from the lower segment,” said Yatin Patil, MD, Vintage Wines.
Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi account for 60 per cent of the total consumption. India also exports 5 per cent of its home-made wines. Maharashtra has 50 wineries and Karnataka 10.