Polina Bosca, the sixth generation of Italy’s famous family of winemakers talks about the long association with India and how the Bosca Cellars (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Canelli, Italy is drawing visitors from across the world By Sudipta Dev
In 2014 UNESCO declared the Bosca Cellars in Canelli, Italy to be a World Heritage Site of Humankind. The ancient wine cellars are considered ‘underground cathedrals’. The company, that has had a presence in India for almost half a century, was founded in 1831 and the business is managed by the sixth generation. “At the moment I am taking care of the company with my sister and brother. We have always been a very international company since the very beginning and even now we export about 90 per cent of our production,” says Polina Bosca (VP – Agribusiness and Business Development – Bosca S.p.A), and the brainchild behind DIA Red and White, Sula Vineyards’ semi-sparkling wine mainly for women.
The Bosca Group produces about 75 million bottles every year, from its three production sites – in Italy, Lithuania and Switzerland. “From these three sites, we cover the world. The main markets are the US and Russia. In Russia alone we do 45 million bottles. We do a very important line of Kosher products for Israel. Few years ago we came up with a Halal product also – we have a non – alcoholic spumante certified halal. I think this is our future, the world is going more towards niche, nutritional, low or non-alcohol,” mentions Bosca, adding that the company’s specialisation is innovative products, for instance, spumante made of wine and fermented cereals. “But we also have very traditional products. Since we have 185 years of experience we feel the traditional products have to be there to make us understand how to be innovative. So we always start from our traditions,” avers Bosca, adding that the traditions are the cellars that are a World Heritage Site for UNESCO. In 2015 Bosca celebrated with UNESCO the International Year of Light with an exhibition of light and music.
The cellars are open to the public and is increasingly attracting visitors from across the world. “In 2015, almost 10,000 people visited us from all over the world. Since we are a UNESCO site, the number of visitors are increasing and this year we expect 16,000 – 17,000 visitors. In 2015 we also decided to renovate the lighting since it was International Year of Light for UNESCO and we were partners. So we decided to change the lighting and use the most modern photonic lights. It also enables giving coloured lights in the cellars with a video, telling the story of the family. This is very attractive to tourists and we get lot of tourists by word of mouth. Actually the whole town of Canelli, where we are based, have cellars underneath. There are other companies also who have cellars and it is really a very beautiful site,” says Bosca. The sound and light show is an enthralling experience for tourists to feel the tradition, with music and moving lights and modern technology like 3D mapping. “This technology has also been used on our bottles,” mentions Bosca.
The Bosca family believes that it is thanks to the community that the company could grow. “And likewise the community could grow because of us as in our town we are one of the biggest companies. Consequently, we have a video of the community and another of the family – six generations, where they went and what they did,” she says. The tour is free, however if visitors opt for wine tasting, it is charged.
Bosca has been in India since 45 years, and was the first wine producer of the country. “My grandfather was called by the Govt of India to consult them about how to use the surplus grapes produced in Baramati area. He advised production of wine and it took a lot of effort to convince people that wine is food, a part of meal, not alcohol. In Italy we consider it as part of food, not alcohol,” she states. He started Bosca Wines, and used to come and live here for three months every year. “Later, on account of old age he could not visit India frequently, and my father also could not come often. Things did not work out for sometime,” she adds. About 15 years ago, she took charge of the Indian market and lived in Baramati for six months trying to improve and revive the company. “We thought of collaboration, to find a new partner as we did not want to lose this market. I had the fortune and luck to meet Rajeev Samant, who was just starting his Sula company. I tried to convince him with the idea – our idea all over the world is to make non-drinkers, drink something and to make them get closer to wine. In the world 15 per cent of the world’s population drink wine. DIA was born specially for the Indian market. The wine is very aromatic, and has a nice perfume, it is slightly bubbly. Our philosophy is to make people enjoy what they drink,” affirms Bosca.
DIA was always positioned as a wine for women and the packaging was conceived to appeal to women. Interestingly, a lot of men also drink DIA. “A lot of men don’t like to say they drink sweet wine, 80 per cent of Bosca Group’s production is sweet wine, for sure the consumers are not only women. 75 million bottles a year, it can’t be just for women,” she asserts. Her focus on the India market is to stabilise the two products – DIA Red and White. She has been happy with the growth of DIA in the market – approximately 30 per cent every year.
Sharing her views about the wine scenario in India, Bosca points out that local wine products will grow, in particular those with lower alcohol content. “The world is moving towards that everywhere. Unless taxation changes, it will always remain difficult for international companies to export wine here,” she states.
Bosca specialises in the production of spumante and is famous worldwide for its Verdi, Sparkletini, Toselli and Asti. In order to develop solutions that will lead to a more sustainable future, Bosca searches every day for cutting – edge technologies, designed to ensure product quality and continuity of its traditions.