Sula Vineyards announces expansion plans

Sula Vineyards has announced the acquisition of India 's first sparkling wine factory, Pimpane Co-operative India Ltd. It was one of the first wine projects of India , formed by a co-operative.. It had failed miserably and the facility has been lying closed with all the unsold stocks under the charge of the lending banks.

Mr. Rajeev Samant, the founder and managing director of Sula Vineyards has announced that the facility will be renovated within the next 3 months to get ready for the 2007 harvest. Although India is in the Northern hemisphere, grapes are harvested once in a year, from February end to April.

The company is the second-largest wine producer in India , with total wine capacity of 1.75 million liters; behind Champagne Indage. It is now the largest producer of premium wines (over Rs.300). Their Sauvignon Blanc 2006 has received a four out of a five-star rating in the prestigious French wine La Revue du Vin de Franc.

The new acquisition will increase the company's production capacity to two million liters. Sula Vineyards plans to further invest over Rs.100 million including Rs.50 million over two-and-half years in a 150-acre world-class wine nursery at Nashik, set up with French collaboration. Samant said a captive nursery was essential to ensure that grape plantations are virus-free, ensure consistency in wine production and eventually lead to enhancing the quality of wines.

Sula has already sold 90,000 cases this year with exports surging up 100% from last year. It has acquired an additional 500 acres of vineyard this year. The total acreage under its ownership and contract farmers has increased from 700 acres to 1,200 acres. Barely 2 years ago, it had an acreage of about 300 under vines.

Recently there had been rumours that the company was divesting 26% of its shareholding to Diaggeo. This had been strongly denied by Rajeev.

Subhash Arora

November 11, 2006




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