Since its debut in 2007, the Pune Wine Tasting Festival held in December each year at Rohi Villa Palace, Koregaon Park, has been drawing crowds for its wine tasting experience. In keeping with the tradition, the 7th Pune Wine Tasting Festival was held on the weekend of December 14th and 15th, 2013, with a few additional features, writes Brinda Gill
“People keep asking me what is new each year. They want something more added to the festival,” said B. Shankaranarayan, Moderator, Pune Gourmet Club. Since 2008 the festival has been organized by Monsoon Winds Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., founded by the members of the Pune Gourmet Club.
So this year apart from wine tasting by wineries, grape stomping and talks on wine by Yeyati Nafrey author of 100 Essential Wine Facts, a flea market with a range of products from clothes to artefacts, a Jazz performance by Kiyoko Yamamoto in association with the Pune Jazz Club, a salsa workshop, an extensive offering of food of different cuisines, artisanal cheeses, wine accessories and an art gallery were included in the festival.
The participating wineries were Charosa, Four Seasons, Fratelli, Fusion Wines, Grover-Zampa, Myra, Pause, Seven Peaks, Rhythm, Rio and York. Shankar noted that the intra-state tax on wines and label registration requirements are a deterrent to wineries from Karnataka wishing to participate in the festival.
“State governments should provide permission, for a limited number of wine cases, for participation in wine festivals in other states at a nominal fee. Even if a winery is allowed to carry five cases for an exhibition, it will give wine lovers a chance to taste different wines, and wineries to explore the market in other states.”
Reiterating the role of wine festivals, Shankar said, wine festivals certainly help in expanding the market especially as they introduce other segments of the market to wine.
“Our wine festival is focused on wine tasting and not entertainment. We have noticed young people in their twenties and young couples with kids coming to the festival. Visitors are also willing to pay for special tastings of high quality, premium wines such as wine reserves.” He drew attention to the participation of 96K, a Pune restaurant that serves Maratha food with wine, observing that the way for Indian restaurants to go is to serve regional food with wine.
Wineries were happy with the number of visitors at the exhibition, an opportunity to interact with wine lovers both novices and connoisseurs and inform them about their range of wines. “We had a large number of people tasting our wines and commenting that they found them very good,” said Sujata Patil, Wine Consultant, Fratelli.(Pictured, left)
“However, this did not translate into sales as expected. Our sales were significantly less than at last year’s festival. This may be because of the multiple wine festivals being held at the same time in Pune along with other factors. The event needs more publicity than it is currently getting and a new energy or elements in the format. The wineries would also like a layout that offers us a bit more space for interacting with visitors.”