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Mallya’s UB bets big on wine

business Updated: Mar 28, 2008 21:05 IST
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India’s wine market, estimated at 1.5 million cases, is poised for major growth with the UB group announcing ambitious plans for this fastest growing sector in the beverages alcohol business.

“We were lacking presence in the wine segment, which is growing by 35 per cent per annum. It will emerge as a profitable business and we will be able to provide international quality wine at affordable prices,” UB group chairman and managing director Vijay Mallya said.

He said beer and wine with less alcohol content should be promoted among the youth at the entry stage so that they would stay away from hard liquor.

With a dynamic pricing and marketing strategy, Vijay Mallya controlled United Spirits Ltd (USL), which recently started its wine business said it would soon dominate the domestic wine segment and also emerge as a major wine exporter.

USL, currently the market leader in spirits and beer business in the country is setting up India’s biggest winery with an investment of Rs 70 crore and announced plans to launch multiple wine brands to grow the country’s wine market and tap overseas markets.

USL’s 51 per cent subsidiary Four Seasons Wines Ltd set up in joint venture with local farmers and union minister Sharad Pawar’s family is setting up a huge winery in Baramati on a 300 acres land that would also have a vineyard. The company has also entered into long-term contract with farmers for steady supply of quality grapes.

“Sharad Pawar’s brother holds a small stake in the 49 per cent controlled by the farmers of Baramati. This is to keep all the farmers together and contribute for the development of the region and for the success of the venture,” Mallya said adding that the facility will start producing wine from October this year onwards.

Towards late last year, the company had launched its maiden wine brand Zinzi in white and red varieties from grapes sources from the market and produced wine at a contracted facility. Zinzi targeted at the youth is launched in the markets of Maharashtra and Goa is an entry-level wine. The company will soon launch another brand called Four Seasons Wine for the premium range. It is also planning to launch Kingfisher wine in a later stage.

Modeled on a French chateau style, the winery at Baramati with an initial capacity of one million cases per year will house 16 suits, a deck to accommodate 1000 people, a swimming pool and a special wine testing room so that it emerges as a hot spot of wine tourism.