Indian Wine School Reviews 15 Years of Country's Vino History
This past month the Indian Wine Academy published a brief history of the country's modern wine industry, one that encompasses a mere 15 years.
Writer Subhash Arora penned the story for India's food and wine magazine UpperCrust. His history concluded with a synopsis of the country's wine industry.
“The wine drinking culture is on the increase, though at a slower pace than in China where a lot of similarities were there 15 years ago,” Arora wrote. “As and when our government realizes that wine is different than other alcoholic drinks like liquor, and the policies and procedures are streamlined and people become keen for wine education as in China, the wine culture will continue to grow though it may not be able to compete with spirits for a long time.”
According to the story, India's wine industry existed back in the 80's in the form of two vineyards – Chateau Indage and Grover Vineyards.
However, Arora said the industry underwent the genesis of its modern era when Stanfordite Rajeev Samant returned to India from California and started Sula Vineyards.
“Samant decided to grow wine grapes at the family orchard in Nashik and collaborated with a wine consultant from California,” the article said. “The first vintage was out in 2000 and the Sauvignon Blanc quickly climbed in the popularity charts.”
Maharashtra, the state in which Sula, Grover Zampa, Four Seasons, Fratelli and several other wineries were located, enacted laws which benefited the estates – namely, no excise duties for 10 years and refunds of sales tax.
Arora also noted that the federal government recognized the importance of the wine industry and allowed in 2002 the import of wine, although the taxes were astronomically high – 460 percent, he said.
Sula's popularity grew as did the overall popularity of the industry until a pair of major events hit the industry hard: the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and the global recession.
India's legendary Chateau Indage fell prey to the fallen economy, shutting its doors.
In recent years, the federal government has exercised a tremendous amount of oversight in the wine industry. This is not a good thing, Arora said.
“The bureaucratic handling has straitjacketed the industry which is slowly coming ot grips with the vague procedures adopted by it unilaterally in the name of law,” he wrote.
Despite the difficulties of the economy in recent years and the alleged micromanaging of the federal government, India's wine drinking population has increased, he said.
“There were less than half a million wine drinkers (15 years ago) but the number of wine drinkers is now estimated to be between 2-3 million now,” Arora wrote.