Indians prefer red wines, says Sumedh Mandla of Grover Zampa Vineyards

Success Quotient is a weekly feature that appears every Friday in Firstbiz which looks at the pains and joys en route to success for a head honcho - whether a CEO, MD or an entrepreneur. The column looks at the ideas that helped launch a company and its future plans.

For Bangalore-based Grover Zampa Vineyards, 2014 has been a year of as many as 24 awards from two international wine competitions that it participated. The company won 9 awards in the Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA) 2014, which received more than 2,500 entries from around the world. This includes first ever International Trophy for India for its Art Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014. It won 15 awards at Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Competition 2014. Sumedh Mandla, CEO, talks about the importance of recognition, trends in the wine industry in India and the company’s future plans. Excerpts from the conversation:

 Indians prefer red wines, says Sumedh Mandla of Grover Zampa Vineyards

Sumedh Mandla of Grover Zampa Vineyards

Grover Zampa Vineyards has won 25 awards from two international wine competitions in 2014. What can we expect from the company in 2015?

The recognition reiterates our position of being one of the finest wine makers in India. We are committed to producing top quality wines that are enjoyed by wine aficionados all over the world. I am sure this success will help us and other Indian wines stand tall at international platforms.

What is the Grover Zampa wine sales footprint like?

We currently distribute in 21 states in India and export our wines to over 20 countries with France, Japan and UK as our top threeexport markets.

Do you have plans to come out with a celebrity collection like the Vijay Amritraj Reserve collection? Please tell us what is the wine about? How is that doing?

It is a great honor for us to be associated with Vijay Amritraj --tennis legend and a great ambassador for the Indian sub-continent. We worked together on this project for over five years and finally released a select lot of VA Reserve Collection white and red wine in 2014. Both the wines are appreciated globally and we recently won silver awards for them at Decanter Asia Wine Awards and IWSC 2014.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

Wine is a passion for me and I am fortunate that my passion and job is intertwined.

What do you look forward to every day in your job?

During the two years of my tenure in GZV, we have achieved several milestones, top international accolades, highest growth in 2013, expansion in distribution footprints in both domestic and International markets, introduction of new wines and packaging--thus the quality, innovation, growth and opportunities seized make my job rich and fulfilling.

Is India maturing as a wine consuming country?

The Indian wine industry is still at its nascent stage and we believe that there is an underlying opportunity for wine producers and wine marketing companies to grow in this environment. The Indian consumer generally prefers red wines, but whites are not much behind. The taste and level of sweetness depends on the individual’s palate but generally  new wine enthusiasts like wines with good fruit and of a dry style. The advanced consumer palate would like to experience drier and complex wines. The most popular grape varieties in India are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.

What are the new trends that are being noticed in the Indian wine market? What would you like to see happen more?

Trends are encouraging. There is better awareness about wine in the Indian market. Changing lifestyles, frequent international travel, growing inbound travelers and expat community in India, the hospitality industry, HoReCa (hotel, restaurant, café) segment and modern retail, higher disposable incomes, international research on health benefits of wines—all these have combined to create an awareness about wine and its demand in India.

Which country’s wines are becoming increasingly popular in India? How are you planning to fight them?

For a long time France has enjoyed the largest share of wines in India. Thanks to the popularity of Italian cuisine, Italian wines have shown good growth. Among new world wines, Australia, Chile and South Africa have made some good inroads. Availability of good wines will only increase overall size of the pie and shall push serious wine producers like us to focus more on quality, innovation, packaging and marketing. This will encourage healthy competition and both Indian as well as the international wine segment will benefit in the long run.

What advice would you give wine lovers on how to approach their wine?

Be adventurous. Please avoid too many wines from a single/ few varietal, style or region. There is no reason not to explore the wine world in all its diversity. Don’t stick only to well-known varieties like chardonnay or cabernet — experiment with other whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier or reds like Tempranillo, Syrah or Zinfandel. Also, try examples of a variety from different countries to understand how regional conditions affect wine character. Expose yourself to every type of wine.

Who in the world would you like to share your wine with?

I would love to interact with one of my favorite sportspersons, Sachin Tendulkar over a bottle of Grover La Reserve.

What are your plans for Grover Zampa in 2015?

Besides achieving a healthy Profit and Loss account, we would focus on

· Further growing our quality so that we can compete more openly at the international platform
· Increase our distribution in domestic as well as international markets
· Create better communication platforms to educate and convert more consumers into drinking wine
· Create a happy and self-motivated team of professionals
· Product and process innovation will also be an integral part of our plan

Updated Date: Jan 12, 2015 11:12:58 IST