Prowein, held annually in Düsseldorf, Germany, is one of the largest wine shows in the world. Thousands of producers from around the world show their wines, competing for the attention of importers and purchasing managers. This year the 3-day show, which concluded at the end of March, was larger than ever – with 3,600 exhibitors from 50 countries. All the established wine regions were represented – as were a host of new wine producing countries. It is to this international stage that a group of Indian wineries went to seek export avenues. Putting up an Indian pavilion at Prowein for the first time was a bold move, orchestrated and part-sponsored by the Indian Grape Processing Board (IGPB).
The Indian contingent included 7 wineries, showing over 35 wines. The ‘Wines of India’ pavilion occupied a choice spot in the main exhibition hall. This was useful as it made the Indian pavilion visible to the thousands of trade visitors who walked by. Indeed casual curiosity was the main draw to the Indian pavilion. Most visitors who stopped by at the Indian pavilion did so because they had never tried Indian wine before and were intrigued by the opportunity to do so.
Praise for the quality of the pavilion and the hospitality of the seven wineries was universal. The visitors appreciated both the look-and-feel of the ‘Wines of India’ pavilion and the fact that they felt very welcome. The opinions on Indian wines though were mixed. Some were straightforward in their praise – like Gabriele Horzinek, a student of viticulture from Austria, who tasted the Zampa white and rosé sparkling wines and found them to be fruity, fresh, and easy to drink. Others, like Juan Glaria, a winemaker from Spain, found the white wines to be easy to drink and clean – “not complex but correct”. The reds on the other had were perceived as being not as clean and having too much wood influence. Johan Larsson, a wine buyer for the Swedish wine retail monopoly, felt that some wines in the Sula range were competitive for the Swedish market. However, in his opinion most Indian wines were not yet on par with the style he was seeking for Scandinavian palates. He felt that Indian wines, sometimes rustic and robust but lacking in finesse, suffer in comparison to other Asian countries, for example Australia. The overall pattern of feedback from international visitors on Indian wines was clear: whites were generally considered clean and better than the reds, the sparkling wines were often a pleasant surprise, and finally the reds needed to be ‘cleaner’ with more fruit purity and less wood influence. Some also expressed the desire to see Indian wine being made from grape varieties that are indigenous to India rather than usual international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Rajiv Samant of Sula wines was pleased with the feedback that he received from the visitors to the Sula stand: he felt that most were pleasantly surprised. Rajiv also pointed out that Germany happens to be Sula’s largest export market so being at Prowein was an opportunity for him to meet directly with customers. Veral Pancholia of Mercury Wines, while pleased with the show, felt that success could only be evaluated a few months down the line if their participation resulted in actual orders form abroad.
The IGPB was represented by Randhir Patel, Under Secretary in the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. The main objective for Indian wineries participating is to develop export markets and to find overseas importers. Providing a platform for Indian wines to exhibit internationally is certainly a praiseworthy initiative and the government deserves kudos for doing a very professional job with the pavillion. Through exhibiting their wines internationally not only do Indian wineries get the access to international trade buyers that they’re seeking, they also get critical feedback from the market.
Mercury Wines (Aryaa)