Monday, November 29, 1999

Indian winemakers to compete with West at London Wine Fair

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New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Eight Indian winemakers will compete with international brewers at the three-day London Wine Fair beginning Tuesday.The Indian Grape Processing Board has handpicked eight wineries from across the country with a varied product portfolio to represent India and meet industry stake-holders for better promotion of Indian wines, said Abhay Kewadkar, chief winemaker and director of Four Seasons Ltd of the UB Group.The UB group is part of the contingent of eight breweries from India at the India Pavilion at the London Wine Fair.'The Indian wine industry has developed to cater to the choice of consumers with varietals across different price points. Indian fruity wines - dry or off dry - are easy to drink though the country produces premium wines matured in oak barrels with aging potential,' the wine-maker told IANS.Indian grape varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Zinfandel.Citing figures, the winemaker said that 'India produces 1.5 million cases of wine every year and the industry is growing at 25 to 30 percent annually'.It was trailing close on the heels of the IMFL (India Made Foreign Liquor) market with an 'overall size of 250 million cases annually,' he said.Globally, wine is the highest-selling alcoholic beverage. 'The Indian wine market has a huge opportunity to grow on a global scale,' Kewadkar said.One of the reasons why Indian winemakers were going out of their way to promote product lines in Britain was the 'export possibilities in a country which has a sizeable Indian diaspora population and eateries that look for cheaper Indian wines,' the UB winemaker said.'Britain does not make its own wine. The country imports all of its wine from France. And to that extent, the British market is very important for us. Moreover, it is an English-speaking country and an easy place to do business. Britain presents an alternative opening for finding distribution channels for Indian wine,' Kewadkar said.The official said: 'It was imperative for India to market its wines in the same way as Australia, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand - the neo-wine producers - who have been trying to push their brews in the economy segments.'The UB group, on its part, will hardsell its wine tourism packages in Britain to draw more tourists and wine-converts to the country.

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