At a special reception held at the French Embassy on April 30, 2009, Jérôme Bonnafont, Ambassador of France to India decorated Kanwal Grover owner of Grover Vineyards Ltd and his son, Kapil Grover, with the title of Officier du Mérite Agricole and Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite, respectively. Both men have been indian wine pioneers. The Art Collection series was also launched which includes artists on Indian wine labels for the first time.
The Grover family has played a pioneering role in the growth of the wine drinking culture in India and in the production of wine. Michel Rolland the distinguished French oenologist has been their consultant. He visits Bangalore once a year when the harvest is ready, to taste the wines.
“The evening was a great moment for me,” said Michel Rolland, who was also present at the Ceremony. “In 1995 – the second time I visited India – at a party at Kanwal Grover’s house, out of 60 people only four ladies were drinking wine. Yesterday, at the Ambassador’s reception there was no whisky, everyone drank wine! This would have been almost impossible 15 years ago.”
Grover’s first vintage was released in 1992 and the Art Collection for which each label has been designed by an eminent Indian artist, was unveiled at the reception. The artists included Jatin Das who designed the Blanc de Blancs label; Paresh Maity the Shiraz and Viogniers; Sanjay Bhattacharya, the Cabernet Shiraz and Chenin Blanc labels; Rini Dhumal the Sauvignon Blanc label and Rekha Rodwittiya the Shiraz Rosé. (See the labels in the SI Photo Gallery by clicking “Photographs’ at the top of the page.)
“Wine-making is also an art, and we think this art collection is a great way to showcase wine,” Kapil Grover was quoted as saying. The launch also marked the 20th anniversary of the winery, which is one of the oldest in the country.
Michel Rolland thought the Art Collection was a good idea. “I think the label designs are beautiful. An attractive label makes people buy the wine,” he said, adding with a smile, “I told Kapil we have to make very good wines now to put into these bottles!”
Indeed, the expectations are that these eye-catching labels by contemporary Indian artists will have a positive effect on the sale of wine in a period of economic slowdown.
“People seem to drink more during a recession,” remarked Aman Dhall, owner of Brindco and a director and stakeholder in Grover Vineyards. “At one time the wine industry was growing at 25 to 30 per cent, now it’s growing at 10 per cent. But it’s not all bad news,” he added.
View the labels in the Photo Gallery