As Grover Zampa Vineyards celebrates 25 years of winemaking, Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO, Grover Zampa Vineyards and chairman of the Asian Wine Producers Association, shares his insights on India’s wine industry and his keeness to invest in wine tourism
You have become one of only 460 people in the world this year to be awarded the coveted WSET Diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). How does it feel to be one among this elite group?
The WSET Diploma was a good learning experience. It has helped me enrich my knowledge on wines and spirits. I enjoyed their tasting technique instrument the most. It really helps one to understand wine more closely and also makes wine tasting more approachable and fun.
How has 2017 been for Grover Zampa Vineyards so far?
This year started a little slow due to the liquor license ban across national and state highways. There is de-growth in the wine industry in several markets. However, the latest judgment from the Supreme Court was helpful and business has started to resume in city limits across the effected markets. We are looking forward to a promising Q3 and Q4. 2017 was a slow year for the wine industry thanks to the demonetisation and Supreme Court ruling on the ban of liquor license within 500 meters of highways; however, our growth was around 10 per cent. We are expecting to maintain 30 per cent growth in the coming years.
Our turnover has grown at a CAGR of 30 per cent over the last 4 years. This year we sold 2.6 million bottles and we will aim to grow production at 20 per cent to 25 per cent. Presently, we have our distribution in over 21 markets pan India and we export our wines to over 30 countries.
This year is very significant for us since we are celebrating 25 years of winemaking excellence, a journey which first began in 1992 with our first vintage. As we celebrate 25 years, Grover Zampa Vineyards aims to establish itself as the most preferred and valuable wine brand in India. We will be working towards growing our reach by introducing new varietals and styles and continuing innovation in wine and packaging to keep producing top quality wines consistently. We will continue to invest in training and tasting events and plan novel activations to grow the wine culture in India.
India is now a more mature wine market due to changing lifestyles and a population more exposed to international travel. Your comments.
The wine culture is building up in India. Wine awareness and education is essential to grow the segment. Higher disposable income and international travel does help in growing trial and awareness of wine. It is heart-warming to see that several Indian residents have begun to add wine tourism to their international travel itinerary.
Do you think GST will negatively impact the wine drinking habit?
Except for marginal increase in input cost of packaging material and services, there is no impact of GST on wine. The alcobev industry has been kept away from the preview of GST. The industry was really looking forward to a format like GST to bring uniformity in the policies and for ease of doing business. I guess we have to wait for another such opportunity.
Apart from the Vijay Amritraj collection, any more celebrity collection in the pipeline?
We have no such plan at the moment. Association with Vijay Amritraj was a natural and unique opportunity. He is a wine lover and a great brand ambassador for India. The Indian wine industry needed such an association in order to create better awareness and credibility.
What is the future roadmap for Grover Zampa Vineyards, both in India and overseas? What is your vision for the brand?
We will be looking at strengthening our distribution in the domestic market and increasing our footprint in the international markets. We will continue to invest in wine education and innovative activations to create better awareness and acceptability of our brands. Quality and consistency will continue to be our key focus and we will keep working tirelessly to grow the wine quality in India.
Any plans to foray into hospitality like in wine resorts?
Wine tourism will be another focus area. We are keen to invest in this format and capitalise on this untapped potential.
How can wine tourism be developed in India? What role can the government play in growing this segment?
For wine tourism development, the industry expects strong support from the government. Lack of infrastructure and red tapism add to the challenge. Wine tourism not only helps with the development of rural locations, but it also creates direct and indirect employment. It supports various associated industries and generates foreign exchange for the economy. Thus both the centre and state governments must come with progressive policies to support and incentivise all the stakeholders.
What is your advice for aspirants looking at a career in wines in India?
The wine industry holds a bright future. The present condition is a little tough due to low base and primitive nature of policies. Wine should be delinked from spirits and given an opportunity to grow. The gap between wines and spirits is going to narrow down and the segment will grow manifold. The wine industry requires patience and long term vision. It will create abundance of rewarding direct and indirect employment opportunities.