Six days, nearly 2.5 lakh visitors including 1.75 lakh farmers alone, from all over India, Rs 35 crore in turnover, spread over 12 acres and in excess of 300 stalls – Krishi 2005, the Indian Agricultural Trade Fair, held in early December 2005, was certainly a success. Sommelier India was the Krishi 2005 official publication.
Wines on display at Krishi 2005.
In fact one couldn’t recall any event of such magnitude that had happened in Nashik before. It was definitely the most immaculately put-up show in this mini-Metro ever, with care being taken even of the dust that lakhs of trudging feet would throw up! All the walkways were covered with soft, bright and colourful matting, to ensure that even asthma patients could come and enjoy the exhibition without feeling any discomfort!
The range of products, services and indeed issues on show was truly mind boggling. So if one could touch and feel the majesty of a gleaming and gorgeous Rs 50 lakh air-conditioned tractor, one could also walk into a stall and buy a Rs 5 one-kg pack of vermicompost for the plants and flowerpots on the balcony at home! But what truly caught the fancy of one and all were the first ever Wine Tasting Sessions organized at the exhibition for large numbers of visitors, where one could walk in and taste wine !
Indeed, in spite of the various other attractions at the exhibition, including an IT in agriculture, the Bankers’ Enclave where they were promoting brand new and innovative agri-finance products – some for the first time, the organic farming enclosure – a hit with the new farmers, the Farming Equipments section and of course it was the Winery Pavilion (Wine Park) that attracted the maximum number of curious visitors!
The Vinsura stall at Krishi 2005.
8000 new wine fans!
That the Wine Tasting Sessions saw as many as 8000 first-time tasters of wine during the exhibition was testimony to the success of the entire concept! It was indeed a most reassuring phenomenon for the wine making community, who would love to see wine become a household regular in India alongside milk and the daily newspaper! The popularity of the Wine Park was also a reflection of the fact that the average Indian is perhaps finally learning to make the distinction between wine and liquor, which is statutorily marked “Injurious to Health”! Not so, Wine, they realized with relief and expectation!
The ten or so wine producers who had put their products on display and for sampling included Sula, Flamingo, ND, Vinsura, Blue Star, Sigma, Prathamesh, Grapcy and Mohini Wineries. Among the wine accessory companies present was Supreme Corq Inc, which manufactures synthetic cork for the wine bottles. The cork is perhaps the most critical component of wine bottling and packaging, often responsible for the wine losing its original taste and flavour in the bottle! Venture Steels – manufacturing plants for winery projects.
Learning to Wine!
Although Indage and Grovers could not make it to the show, Abhay Kewadekar more than made up for Grovers’ absence by putting himself at the visitors’ disposal to answer their myriad queries, not just about wine, but even the culture of ‘Wining and Dining’, which they had only heard or read about. So, for many, their visit to the Winery Pavilion (Wine Park)was the first step towards learning to ‘Wine and Dine’, courtesy Abhay and many other wine experts!
Abhay Kewadekar speaking at a wine seminar.
Among the first time wine tasters were many farmers, some of whom had actually grown the wine grapes that had gone into the wines that were on display and kept for sampling! They were naturally curious to know how their grapes tasted when turned into wine. Many were seen asking the experts what they could do to improve the taste of their grapes, which would translate into better tasting wines! Such curiosity and awareness was both amazing and heartening to see in an Indian farmer! There were also so many new entrepreneurs who are keen to set up new wineries, interacting with existing ones & getting information from viticulture to wine manufacturing. To show the process Media exhibitors also arranged the vineyard tours to Sula, Sigma, and Vinchure Wine Park.
Who says learning is boring? The attendance at the various seminars conducted at the Winery Pavilion clearly indicated that the wine on show had touched more than just the palate of the visitors! Apart from Abhay, the others who took time off to share their knowledge about wines with the curious visitors were Pradeep Pachpatil of Sula, Pralhad Khadangale of Vinsura and Dr Mohan Krishna, the first Indian to receive an Alcobev Doctorate. He explained at length about the challenges faced in marketing wine. Dr. Jaideep Kale – Tech Co coordinator, MIDC., Amit Keval, Fedrik, Santosh Patil, Jagdish Holkar, Ranjeet Patil. They discussed such varied aspects as how to set up a winery, the various policies of the State government vis-à-vis the wine industry, the advantages of dedicated contract farming of grapes, the techniques to be adopted to produce the finest wine grapes and the financial windfall this could bring about for the farmers, how to market the wine in the Indian as well as international market – which still hardly knows that India too is a wine producing country, the health benefits of drinking wine and so on.
In fact, there was a special ‘Wine Knowledge Park’ set up to educate the visitors about the benefits of wine consumption and the different varieties available in the Nashik region.
A number of wine makers had also organized tours of their wineries for interested visitors. This was a very popular sidelight of the Winery Pavilion and many visitors made multiple visits to the wineries and vineyards.
Visitors got to experience India’s finest wines.
‘Liquor’ and ‘Wine’
The urgent need to clearly spell out the difference between ‘liquor’ and ‘wine’ in the public consciousness and perhaps force the liquor shops to stop using the word ‘wine’ on their sign boards, was also widely discussed at these seminars. The merit in Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s suggestion that wine should be sold through grocery shops rather than liquor shops also came in for much debate and discussion.
Thus, if the idea behind putting up the Winery Pavilion was to create public awareness and mobilize public opinion towards wine and the wine industry, the effort was a glorious success. With the grape farmer, wine maker, winery equipment manufacturer, project consultant, wine marketer, wine expert, connoisseur and the consumer all under one roof or ‘Dome’ to be precise, the exercise was a truly fruitful one and should go a long way in raising wine consumption in this country from the negligible 0.1 liter per person now!
Krushi 2005 visitors listen at a seminar on wine
Captive Domestic Market
“Really, who needs the foreign market, when we have a captive consumer base of more than a 100 crore potential wine drinkers right here waiting to be tapped,” said a new age entrepreneur seriously considering going into marketing Indian wine in a big way. “The idea is to create a new market,” said another, adding, “The person who prefers French, Italian, South African or American Wine is hardly likely to change his preference. So, why bother about them? In any case, they constitute only a minuscule proportion of the market potential. So, let’s create new wine connoisseurs!”
The mood at the Winery Pavilion was thus, extremely upbeat! Indeed, at the entire Trade Fair! And all credit must go to Sanjay Nyaharkar and his gang of go-getters at Media Exhibitors. They certainly managed to whet the appetite of even those who aren’t even remotely connected to the vast Indian agriculture industry, to seriously start thinking about becoming a part of the Great Indian Agri Challenge that has the potential to catapult India into the top five agri- economies globally!
Media Exhibitors also whetted the appetite of many Nashikites in another way. They will naturally expect more such events from them in future… and more frequently too! Because this effort of theirs has put Nashik right up there on the country’s Trade Exhibitions Map. It was truly a path-breaking effort and one that will have to be bettered every subsequent time! But going by the evidence of Krishi 2005, that prospect shouldn’t give the people behind Media Exhibitors any sleepless nights at all, right Sanjay?!