October 2010 - Posts
She had the option to continue working in her family business, Amfora Wines, but she chose to traverse her own path and ventured out with Swirl Consulting
It takes temerity to branch out from the comforts of a family business set up and starting something of your own. In a quest to chart her own success path, Isheeta Gupta recently founded Swirl Consulting Company, which conducts wine appreciation workshops, wine promotions and wine dinners, wine and beverage training, event management among others.
Armed with an MBA in marketing and finance, she started her career working for tobacco company, Marlboro. She soon left the company to help her father, Ranjit Gupta, set up his wine import company in 2006 where she worked for three years. “At Amfora, I learnt a lot about wine and how the wine industry works. Also, I discovered my passion for wine. It was then I decided to set up my own venture, Swirl Consulting,” says Isheeta.
In an effort to gather intricate knowledge about the wine industry, she pursued a course in wine that would help further her business. “I have completed my WSET Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wine & Spirits from the WSET London Wine and spirit School, which I passed with distinction. I am planning to do a diploma next year. I have never enjoyed studying as much as I enjoyed studying for this course. It’s amazing how easy things can be when you have the interest and the passion!” she adds.
While commenting about the trends in the Indian wine market, she says the hotels and restaurants are still mainly selling the same retail brands they were selling five years ago. “Though we have more variety available, but mostly the hotels are looking for the cheapest buy and the best ‘deal’ they can have, sometimes even buying things that are not in prime condition,” she says.
“There are some hotels, restaurants and retailers that have made an effort to improve storage conditions. The rest are in the same boat,” she adds.
According to her, things have changed for the worse in terms of taxes. “If I look back at 2006 when we were setting up Amfora, everyone’s biggest complaint was the custom duties. Unfortunately, the reduction in custom duties has led state governments to make desperate attempts to increase taxation and complicate laws to make wine supply difficult. Rather than protecting the local industry from the world for the sake of protectionism, we should be trying to improve the quality of our products to bring them on par with world standards. In addition, our policy should favour wine; we should be looking at promoting wine as a healthier option (than spirits) for people who drink (not non-drinkers),” she says.
In an effort to boost sales of wine in the country, she says that the government should start by easing out processes for import, licensing and supply. “I don’t get the point of exorbitant taxation on wine just because it’s a luxury item. We have higher tax rates on wine than we do on Ferraris, so what’s the logic?” she says.
Elaborating on the plans of her new firm, she says the purpose of her Wine Appreciation Workshops is to help consumers get a basic understanding of wine. She feels that ultimately, each person’s knowledge and appreciation for wine grows with tasting. “I want people to appreciate wine the way I do… not just as an alcoholic beverage, but as an art,” she says. Ideally, she covers every topic related to wine industry; from how to taste wine to how to read a wine label and their pronunciation in her Wine Appreciation Workshops. “I also cover storage, service and proper glassware. The session concludes with a tasting of 5-6 wines and guidelines for food and wine pairing. This provides a structure to understanding wine,” she says.
Besides this, she helps restaurants select a sensible wine list, training their staff on how to sell those wines and planning inventory. Planning wine promotions for restaurants to increase their wine sales, training hotel F&B and other staff on behalf of companies launching in India. “I am currently consulting for Remy Cointreau to provide F&B staff training on their brands Remy Martin, St. Remy, Cointreau, Piper-Heidsieck and Louis XIII,” she says.
Soon, she plans to start a new initiative with two partners – Rudranshu Nautiyal (Crazy Monkey Entertainment) and Saarthak Gupta (owner of a nightlife portal, www.mypurplemartini.com). “With our combined experience in events, nightlife, wine and spirits, we are launching The Elixir Club, which will be an exclusive membershipbased lifestyle club. We will be holding events showcasing entertainment, premium alcohol and food including premium vodka, speciality beers, single malt tastings, liqueurs, champagne, wine, etc. We have tied up with The Only Network, India’s first luxury concierge service and lifestyle consultancy. With them, we are also planning wine holidays, whisky trails and many other exciting things,” she says.
Additionally, she thanks her parents immensely for their support in her new business. “I’m constantly bouncing ideas off them and who better than family to tell it like it is!” says Isheeta.
As a piece of advice to the new entrants in the wine industry, she says, “Do your research, make achievable business plans and be patient… nothing happens overnight.” When asked about her success mantra, she says, “If you pursue your passion, success is bound to follow.”
Antaraa which means 'verse' in Hindustani classical music is the new wine brand launched by Good Earth Winery,which is a twist on the classical blend of two varietals with its roots in the Nashik valley. Navin Sankaranarayanan the CCO of the company speaks about this new Cabernet Sauvignon and Oak aged Shiraz and his company.
Talking about his wine brands Navin said, “We currently have four wine brands,
“Basso” - Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Current Vintage 2008) and
“Brio” - Reserve Shiraz (Current Vintage 2008) from our Concerto Collection;
“Aarohi”- Sauvignon Blanc and “Antaraa’
– Cabernet Shiraz from our Raga Collection.” While describing the product strategy and marketing thrust he said, “We are getting our strategies and brand properties in place. Currently we are establishing our brands in Maharashtra through our marketing energies, thereby creating awareness and recall through PR and activations in both on trade and off trade. We will move to other cities in the country in the next financial year and go global fairly soon, USA being the first.”
Describing the new wine brand Antaraa, the red wine which is particularly designed for the warm Indian climate he says, “Antaraa, our new wine brand was launched in July 2010.”
The wine has a subtle flavours of plum,blackcurrants and spices which are held together by a flavour of soft tannin. It combines well with spicy pizzas and creamy pasta dishes.While describing the speciality of the wine and the technology Navin added, “At Good Earth Winery we believe that Indian wines can be among the finest in the world. Using innovative technologies, selective local grapes and an obsessive attention to technique, we bring you our best. So it’s to make the best wines in India and create a new Super Premium Lifestyle segment for Indian Wines. At his Good Earth Winery, the thrust is only on wines currently, and not on brand expansion for now.”
Commenting on the consumers taste he has observed he says, “Well, beer already has a huge consumer base in India. Wine is coming of age in the country and the Indian consumers today are more knowledgeable about wine than they were probably five years ago, and yes, we are ready, but have a long way to go.”
According to his understanding about the growth of wine industry, “The last two years were dull, but the future holds good. India is one of the fastest growing wine markets in the world.
To be special among the Indian wine brands, he says “We are creating a new segment for Indian Wines; if that makes us special.”
He further added about the techniques, “We have a Virtual Winery. We select our own grapes, use our own ingredients and make our wine, under the supervision of our winemaker, at select facilities that meet our requirements for best production practices and barrel storage. We specify pruning, canopy management, fertilizing and irrigation techniques at selected vineyards. As we establish our brand, build the market for super premium Indian wines and a loyal database of discerning customers, we will “backward integrate” to our own winemaking facilities.”
He has a plan not only for the Indian market but also, he says, “We are getting into exports as well; the brands will remain the same.” And regarding the excise policies, “Maharashtra has no excise duty on wines made in Maharashtra. The discussion for a uniform access policy for wines across the country is underway I believe. We will support whatever is best for the Industry.” His future plans is to continue to make the best wine possible in the country and build ‘India’s International Wines Brands’. "We believe that India needs great Wines; the World needs great Indian Wines,” says Navin.
— Lopamudra Ganguly
Vallee de Vin, which produces Zampa wines, is striving to educate its consumers and enhance the overall wine experience. According to Ravi Jain, Managing Director, Valley de Vin, the wine industry has been growing handsomely for the last few years and the company doubled its sales last year despite the global recession.
Vallee de Vin was founded in 2006 and since its beginning the company has been producing Zampa, a premium brand of wines, as well as striving to educate their consumers and enhance the overall wine experience .The winery and the vineyards are located in Sanjegaon (Nashik), nestled in Maharashtra’s Sahyadri Valley .
Vallee de Vin offers five varietals of Zampa wines under the flagship brand of premium wines and a Zampa Soiree range of sparkling wines. The wines of this winery were showcased at LIWF 2010 under the “Brand India “ wines . Lopamudra Ganguly finds out more in conversation with Ravi Jain, Managing Director, about Vallee de Vin and its future plans.
The Zampa wine range presently consists of 5 still wines: Sauvignon Blanc , Chenin Blanc , Rosé (Syrah), Syrah Cabernet and Syrah and 2 sparkling wines , Zampa Soirée Brut and Brut Rosé.
Wine is quickly becoming a necessity when it comes to leading a stylish life, and so Vallee de Vin has introduced premium brands to its premium segment and posted good results despite the difficulties facing the trade.
“The wine industry has been growing handsomely for the last few years though last year was not as good , even though we doubled our sales. The wine segment was affected by global recession , which restrained consumer spends in general. The hotels also were recuperating from the terror attacks that rocked Mumbai and then Pune”, said Ravi Jain, Managing Director. Jain, who is an alumnus of IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad, has 34 years of branding and marketing experience. He had started his career with Herbertson in Kolkata, worked as a Managing director for Shaw Wallace and also has a wide marketing experience of fifteen years with UB Group.
Describing the product strategy and marketing thrust he said: ”We have always put consistent efforts in delivering the consumers quality wines. We launched sparkling wines last August, which included Zampa Soiree Brut Rosé , one of the first Rose sparkling wines in India”. The company later collaborated with the famous design house Satya Paul to create special coffret and label Zampa Couture (Rosé) which was unveiled at the Lakme Fashion Week September 2009 during their 10th anniversary celebrations.
Their range boasts of many high points for the connoisseur. The sparkling Brut is described as a rich sparkling wine with a luminous pale gold colour. The other is a Brut Rose, a romantic sparkling wine with a delicate pink hue wooed by light mousse.
In signature ‘Zampagne’ style, the wine is perfectly blended, light and creamy, with a strong character and length of flavour.
Meanwhile, Jain said that the company is planning to launch a better value proposition brand in near future. Describing the speciality of Zampa wines among other Indian wines he said that the company had invested in creating a world class facility to set standards of making quality wines. For this, Simon Robertson, a worldrenowned Australian viticulturist, was involved in implementing high standards of viticulture practices.
“Our winemaker Nick Van Arde, from South Africa, was entrusted with the responsibility to translate these practices into the making premium wines of high quality”, said Jain.
Vallée de Vin has sought to bring the latest international practices and techniques in winemaking to the Zampa brand. A Cool Room has been installed at the winery, which ensures that the grapes are cooled and maintained at a temperature of 16 degrees after harvesting, ideal for creating aromatic and flavourful wines.
Whole-bunch pressing has been implemented which helps to preserve the freshness of the fruit and maintain the softness of the wine. The vineyards have been planted on terraced slopes, to guarantee the most optimum moisture and drainage levels for the vines. The introduction of the Vertical Shoot Positioning System (one of the first of its kind in India) allows the vines optimal sunlight interception and helps the grapes to achieve desired ripeness.
“The production capacity of our winery is 3, 50, 000 litres and our vineyards are spread across 30 acres. Our goal is to make world class Indian wines and hence our all our grapes are from India. However, the seeds are from France”, said Jain. The company has already started exporting the brand Zampa to a few countries.
Regarding excise policies, Jain believes that more than the duties, the cost of license and excise duties should be lowered to wean away consumers from hard liquor “to this more noble drink”.
As for future plans, he said: “We will be adding new varietals in the days to come. We will be developing our winery as a tourism destination and setting up infrastructure to promote it.”.
─ Lopamudra Ganguly
The second edition of the International Food & Drink Expo India is ready to return to Delhi this December, taking place from 2 – 4 December, Hall 12a, Pragati Maidan Exhibition Grounds, New Delhi
This annual trade exhibition will bring together countries from all over the globe to showcase their products and innovations, including suppliers from Australia, Chile, India, France, Bangladesh, China, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, Vietnam, UK, and the USA. Key supporters this year are the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI), Austrade, CCFNA, DTI South Africa, ProChile, Sopexa, SUSTA, USDA, Forum of Indian Food Importers (FIFI), Wi-Not Beverage Solutions, Institute of Wine + Beverage Studies (IWBS) and the Indian Importers Association (IIA).
To compliment exhibition the International Food & Drink Expo India 2010 will also offer, the following ‘live events’ are also set to take place in the onsite theatres:
- Business Forum Seminar Programme
- Press Bordeaux Tasting Session - Organised by Sopexa and chaired by Sanjay Menon
- Importer Panel Discussion – FIFI (Forum of Indian Food Importers)
- Third Indian Sommelier Championship - Organised by Wi-Not, moderated by Magandeep Singh
- SUSTA Cooking Presentation – showcasing Southern US Cuisine
- Guided Wine Tastings
- Cooking demonstrations
- Much more….new attractions are being added to the schedule all the time
Mike Carter, Trade Commissioner, Austrade, gave his support: “In food terms, the International Food & Drink Expo India 2010 is a restaurant which offers great service and choice. It also delivers an extensive menu of opportunities for food & beverage companies to select from to add value to their business prospects in India's burgeoning F&B sector.”
Lauren Morrey, Project Director commented “This must attend event has been produced with trade buyers from the food, beverage, retail and hospitality sectors in mind. Over three days the exhibition will be bringing worldwide flavours together, all under one roof, to facilitate business and networking opportunities. 2010 will see Indian companies standing alongside exporters from more than 16 countries, all keen to do business in India”.
for more details please visit http://www.indiafooddrinkexpo.com/
Kewadkar, a chemical engineer by qualification, was always passionate
about wine and the process of wine making, since his graduation days.
“I’ve always said that my passion is my profession, and my profession is
my passion. By entering the wine industry, I wanted to do something
path-breaking,” he adds, humbly. Path-breaking indeed, Kewadkar holds
the honour of having shaped the Indian commercial wine industry into
what it is today.
“One can just drink wine, the knowledge and education about the
drink will follow in course of time,” he opines. “The UB group has also
introduced a group of trainers. These set of people will go to any place
required and take the laymen through the process of wine making, wine
information and wine appreciation,” explains Kewadkar, as he sips on the
drink in question.
“We should promote responsible drinking, because prohibition will
not stop the public from drinking. Plus, when consumed in moderation,
wine is beneficial to health. The resveratrol present in red wine
reduces cholestrol levels in blood,” says the wine-man, continuing, “I
believe that Hyderabad has the same potential as Bengaluru, to be a
wine-consuming city. All it needs is a wine-friendly policy. The
government should realise that it is an agro-based industry, which will
directly benefit the farmers.”
More: Indian Expres
To some, yoga and wine may not seem to have much in common. One is an ancient practice that gradually trains your body and mind to be in a constant state of peace. The other might be considered a fleeting remedy, which can temporarily raise your spirits and relieve your inhibitions. But if you take a closer look, you'll discover that yoga and wine have far more in common than you might think. In my research on the topic, it seems that there has been a wave of wine and yoga-related workshops sweeping the USA in recent years. "Yoga teaches you how to age gracefully just like a great bottle of wine ages gracefully," explains David Romanelli, an instructor in California who teaches yoga and wine workshops across the country.
Yoga has many meanings and is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj", meaning "to control", "to yoke" or "to unite". Other translations include "joining", "uniting", "union", "conjunction", and "means". Yoga refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines that originated in India nearly 5000 years ago. Yoga exercises are based on the belief that the body and breath are intimately connected with the mind. By controlling the breath and holding the body in steady poses or "asanas" yoga creates harmony.
So imagine that you just completed a fulfilling yoga practice and you are fully in tune with your body, and then at the end of the practice you assume the relaxation pose, usually savasana (corpse pose). Feeling fulfilled and relaxed, you then take a sip of your favourite wine, complete with retro nasal breathing to get the full aroma and bouquet of the wine; just imagine how much better that wine will taste.
Not everyone agrees with the concept of wine and yoga. The purists truly believe that the mere fact that you have taken up yoga suggests that you are seeking the truth and enlightenment. No alcohol should pass your lips, some diehards believe. For me, take everything in moderation.
Some do Yoga for exercise, others as alternative medicine; there are those who are on their journey seeking their own enlightenment and understanding of consciousness. As the popular saying goes: 'To each, his own'.
The above article in Jamaica Observer is food for thought.
Not many people are aware that in India, yoga and wine have the same roots - the Vedas. While Yoga is well known as an exercise regimen, it is more of a holistic path for union with one's source/divinity. Ayurveda, (Ayu means life in Sanskrit, Veda means wisdom,) the Indian medicine system, revealed to meditating sages some thousands of years ago, has a living tradition of red wine - Draksharishth. It is made by fermenting grape juice and herbs. Its role has been to sustain health. Draksharishth is recommended as a tonic and to increase the digestive fire. It is especially useful in anemia. Not many people, (that includes Indians too) are aware of the wine and yoga connection anymore. Wine was used as medicine. To the extent that wine was used as a food item was because in Ayurveda, proper food or Pathya is used as preventive medicine. Yoga and Ayurveda serve the holistic purpose of assisting a person reach one’s full potential in health and spirituality, among other benefits.
This subject definitely needs more research and highlighting vis a vis the Indian wine industry’s present scenario :-) What says the Indian wine fraternity?
Taittinger, who is on a whirlwind, three-day trip to India, has come straight from Mumbai to our lunch at La Piazza at the Grand Hyatt in Delhi. He has tied up with Prestige Wines and Spirits Pvt. Ltd and is launching the champagne here. But we don’t have much of a culture of champagne drinking here, I point out. “That’s going to change. There are many reasons to think that champagne is going to be successful here. It carries values of happiness and celebration and goes well with your gastronomy. Champagne accompanies Indian dishes well because it does not hide the fragrance of the food,” the 57-year-old says.
Unlike most foreign brands that are launching in India now because of the drop in sales volumes in other markets, Taittinger says he is not in India to drive up turnover for his champagne. In fact, his business is not about volumes growth at all.
“We depend on nature,” he says. “If we have a good harvest, we produce more. If we don’t, we produce less. I always say that I am not a businessman—if I were a businessman I would do something in real estate, banks or finance. My mission is not to multiply the sales of Taittinger by 10, first of all we don’t have the grapes to make it, but it is to make Taittinger present in all the good places in the world where connoisseurs can enjoy it,” he says.
“We have a great sense of history, we have wine cellars in Taittinger that are more than 1,500 years old—historic Roman cellars. I think the extended family is pleased that I have bought it back. I always tell myself that I am not in front of my wine, I am behind it. I’ll die one day but the champagne will go on,” he says sombrely.
Jean-Marc Vettesi, Director – Beverage, at Dubai's Atlantis, the Palm, is a fund-house of information...
Vettesi explains that wine pairing depends on the food flavour and ingredients. “It is not so much related to the fish or the meat, but more to the base of the dishes. When people ask me to recommend a wine, I try to find out the ingredients in the recipe.”
And if that base has to do with “chutney or masala, German Riesling is the best bet. India and Germany are so different and so distant, and yet you pair some Indian food with dry Riesling.” And, he adds, Riesling varies from very dry to very sweet, and it goes very well with flavours like mango and the masala;
Indian wines falter in Dubai
Coming to Indian wine, Vettesi says that three years ago he sampled it in Dubai and found it “very good, particularly the sparkling rose wine from India”. But Indian wines failed in Dubai. “I think the brand manager thought that a large Indian community in Dubai would drink Indian wine, but apparently it didn't. But I think the soil of India will one day produce great wines.”
His reasoning is that wine from the French Burgundy region is very good, “but how old is the vineyard? Nearly 500 years old, and the soil tends to get tired. In India there is so much soil that is rich. When you can produce good fruits you can produce good wine!”
Argentinian wine also had a similar experience. “About 80-90 years ago, there was no wine in Argentina, but today it's so popular. So it's just a question of time, communication and education of the market.”
More: The Hindu
Bacci Group, which owns the three top vineyards in Tuscany, Italy, ties up with Aspri Spirits to launch internationally-acclaimed wines in India.
Bacci Group, which owns the three top wine estates in Tuscany, Italy – Castello di Bossi, Renieri and Terre Di Talamo – and Aspri Spirits recently launched new premium wines in India. Marco Bacci, the owner of the house of Bacci, was in Delhi recently to unveil the internationally- renowned wines.
“We are happy with our association with the company,” said Bacci, “with their highly professional management and a wide reach, we are confident to make our wines successful among Indian consumers too.”
On the other hand, Arun Kumar, Director, Aspri Spirits said, “We are delighted with our association with the well-acclaimed Bacci Group and are confident that the Indian consumers will appreciate the outstanding quality of wines.”
The wines from the House of Bacci will be available with the top Italian restaurants and hotels in India and the range starts from Rs 3,000 onwards. Sumedh Singh, CEO, Aspri Spirits said, “Italian wines have remained close to my heart. Strong winemaking techniques, skills and heritage along with favourable terrior make Tuscany as one of the most illustrious wine making regions in the world.”
The winery has a rich heritage of winemaking for thousands of years since the time of the Roman Army, informs Bacci. “Wine is a passion for us. We have built our reputation for making top quality wines over the years. We have not only got sangiovese; the key Tuscan grape right but have experimented with various international wine varitals and have introduced some successful wines that consumers across the globe appreciate for their distinct style, quality and taste. Our wines have been a good success in several key international markets and we want to present these wines to the discerning wine consumers in India too.”
“It was in 1995 that I decided to dedicate my life to winemaking. In 1998, after a long search, I bought out Renieri.” After that the property was completely renovated,” he adds. According to him, the existing old vineyards were cut and replanted to get the proper quality and to have a density of 6,200 vines per hectare. “One bottle per vine is the policy in the three estates,” he smiles.
Today, Marco and his brother produce grapes in almost 200 hectare of vineyards. “There is no irrigation, herbicide, pesticide on his farms, and the grape is considered organic,” he said. Jacopo Bacci, his son, is already involved in the family business following the enthusiasm in his father’s experience.
Speaking about his laurels, he said, “In the year 2006, 2007 and 2008 were three vintages while in 2009 was the fourth. I cannot remember in my experience when we were given vintages four years in a row whose quality could be described as exceptional. No one expected, after three very good years, to see another jewel.” Marco Bacci is of the view that the wines can be combined very well with spicy tandoori dishes as well as cottage cheese and other Indian dishes.
In future, he wants to organise winery tour to his regions so that people visiting there understand the wine well and become “ambassadors” later.
Castello di Bossi: Chianti Classico DOCG, Berardo, Chianti Classico reserve DOCG, Girolamo IGT, Toscana (merlot) and Corbaia IGT Toscana ( Sangiovese & Cabernet).
Renieri: Regina di Renieri Syrah IGI Toscana, Re Di Renieri IGT Toscana(cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot),Renieri Brunetto Di Montalcino DOC.
Terre di Talamo: Piano IGT Toscana label (Sangiovese & Cabernet). Tuscanny’s winemaking industry counts on one of the most noble and ancient traditions that predates the universally known Chianti wine that often springs to mind when this region is discussed.
Castello di Bossi is located in the southern half of the Chianti Classico production Zone, in the commune of Casterelnuovo Bererdenga. The wines of this area tend to be fuller and more highly structured than those of the rest of the Chianti Classico zone, closely resembling those of Montalcino area. The Castello di Bossi estate extends over 650 hectares, 124 of which are under vine.
— Lopamudra Ganguly