The first edition of the India International Wine Fair (IIWF) organised by Informa was unveiled in Mumbai at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 16 March, 2009. Set against the backdrop of what is perceived to be India’s rapidly growing wine market supported by attractive demographics and rising incomes, this event was dedicated entirely to the wine industry. Sonal Holland reports. View the photo gallery.
The three-day exhibition from March 16 to 18, attempted to bring together the country’s wine community under one roof with wine importers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers; institutional buyers like hotels, airlines and restaurants; domestic wine producers including exporters and potential wine companies vying to make a foray into the Indian market. Other than the big institutional buyers and retailers who were conspicuous by their absence, most other segments showed up at the exhibition in good numbers.
The French Ministry of Trading affairs had sponsored a pavilion showcasing French wines from the well-known regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne and St. Emilion. A few were Classified Growths including Grand Crus, which was a delight for all tasters. German wines made a mark with their fine quality and their ability to produce diverse styles of wines. Spanish wines were also well received but Italy was less conspicuous with only one producer exhibiting his range. Wines from the New World regions of Australia, New Zealand, California and South Africa were also exhibited with the refreshingly balanced Chilean wines being greatly appreciated.
Among the Indian wine producers, Mercury Wines and Sula Vineyards from Nashik proudly offered their 2008 vintages, which were in fact quite good. Brindco, India’s largest importer, laid emphasis on marketing Grover wines, in which they are now a stakeholder.
With an objective to promote wine education, the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), London, and KBR School of Wine from India were present offering multi-level courses to the knowledge hungry wine fraternity. A session on How to taste Wine like a Professional, based on a systematic approach to wine tasting was conducted by David Wrigley (MW) of WSET.
Whilst the exhibition had a regular flow of visitors, the real crowd puller was the India International Wine & Food Summit, where eminent speakers from the Indian wine industry delivered their unique perspectives.
Some of the wide-ranging topics covered were, ‘Overcoming India’s Restrictive Import Regime’ by Sanjay Menon of Sonarys; ‘Successful Marketing of International Wines’ by Vishal Kadakia of Wine Park; ‘Marketing and Brand Building of Fine Wines in India’, by Dharti Desai and Craig Wedge of Finewinesnmore; ‘Importance of Wine Education’ by David Wrigley of WSET, ‘Current and Short Term Outlook for the Indian Wine Industry with the Recessionary Effect’ by Rajeev Samant of Sula Vineyards and ‘Matching Wine with Indian Spice’ by Sonal Holland, wine advisor and reporter of this event.
A networking and welcome dinner organised for all the exhibitors, speakers and VIP guests on the first day, in my view, could have been better organized. One, because all the wines exhibited at the fair were being offered for tasting in no real order. Angela Mount, eminent wine professional from the UK delivered a speech on ‘Passion for Wines and Positives for the Indian Wine Industry’ but the humid weather, unsettled guests and a poor sound system did the speech very little justice. The multiple buffet stations, with very little place to stand and enjoy both food and wine, left the guests restless and disappointed.
Overall, however, one had a great range and style of wines from different countries to taste over the entire event. The exhibition was also a success in terms of opportunity to network, learn and share; and given that this was the first one of the series, it was an event well attended and well received.
I look forward to the next IIWF scheduled for January of 2010.