Mark Twain, the American author, wrote in 1897 that “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. On the same lines I would aver that while it is ailing, reports about the imminent demise of the Indian wine industry are somewhat premature, writes Sommelier India columnist, Alok Chandra.
There’s no doubt that fiscal 2008-09 was an annus horribilus for the industry: the ‘triple whammy’ of the global recession, fall-off of overseas visitors due to 26/11, and rising prices due to higher taxes imposed in mid 2008 in the key markets of Karnataka, Goa, and Delhi caused sales to fall 15% instead of increasing by 25%. The loss in sales has led to some 2 million litres of wine remaining with wineries at the start of the grape harvest this February – at a time when tanks should have been virtually empty.
That said, wine sales in India have recovered after declining 15% in 2008/0. Total volume was an estimated 1.8 million cases in 2009/10, 16% above the previous fiscal; Sula has emerged as market leader with the collapse of Indage. The future looks bright, with 20 – 25% annual growth in volumes expected for several years.
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