Vinod Guraddi grew up in rural Karnataka, balancing academics and helping in the fields. Today he returns to his agrarian roots with a spanking venture as Managing Director, Elite Vintage Winery India Pvt. Ltd. in Karnataka’s village Mudhol, district Bagalkot.
IndianWine.com gets up close with this engineer turned entrepreneur…
Back to roots
Being a farmer’s son, Vinod takes pride in contributing to the agricultural sector through his new winery. Also, his guiding principle in life, “Be something, believe something and do something,” has led him to start Elite Winery, and dedicates the enterprise to the farmers of Karnataka.
The last decade found him globetrotting for business matters and was thus initiated into the world of premium wines. A particular visit to a German vineyard got him thinking on these lines.
What kick-started Elite Winery, we ask him, and he is quick to share his tales of exploration and adventure: “For the last eight years, I studied the feasibility of several agro based industries. In the mean time wineries in Maharashtra were booming and mushrooming in a big way, where as in Karnataka hardly any…”
Karnataka has great potential, as several wine grape varietals are already growing here. “Keeping in mind the conducive climatic conditions for grape growing in Krishna Valley, we set up a winery here to develop quality wines to suit Indian & International markets,’ he begins.
“When we spoke to local grape growers we received an overwhelming response.” So that was it! “Their enthusiasm convinced us to venture into wine making under the banner of Elite Vintage Winery India Pvt. Ltd.”
Building a good team has been the key from the start. “Though I am the Managing Director and had dreamt the winery project, the dream has come true because of our dedicated General Manager - Girish Koraddi, who brings with him 17 years of experience in the sugar industry.”
Dermot Sugrue from UK is Elite’s Chief Wine Consultant and Dr. Krishna Mumbaraddi is the Agricultural Business Advisor. That adds to the 50 strong team at Elite.
And just how successful is the venture? “I should say, we are very successful, because in the very first year we could produce 400 000 liters of wines. By next year our production will reach to 600 000 liters.”
Elite has also developed about 180 acres of vineyards that will start yielding from 2010 harvest.
That’s great going :-)
What is planned on the marketing front? The products are to be launched this summer in Karnataka, while a strong distribution network is being worked upon for all India and foreign markets.
“As an ongoing process, we have been successful in finalizing the co-operation with M/s Nashik Vintners Pvt. Ltd. (M/s Sula Wines) for three vintages from 2009 – 2011,” reveals Vinod.
Prescription for the Indian wine industry’s progress
As a new entrant to the Indian wine industry, what does Vinod prescribe for the industry’s development? “Now it is time to pay an extraordinary attention by all the concerned for the betterment of Farmers, Industry, and Wine community…”
“Encourage the farmers to grow quality grapes and implement some standard practices for wineries to produce quality wines. That allows for healthy competition too,” says Vinod .
There is a need for more trained professionals, thus “Diploma and Engineering colleges should offer ‘Vine to Wine’ related courses” he adds.
Since the Indian wine industry has far to go, it is time that, “the Government of India should invest more on research and development activities and updating of new technology.”
“Encouraging export activities and standardizing taxes all over India at the same time would be another booster for the Indian wine industry,” says Vinod as he signs off.