Last week saw the launching of 2 new wines from Maharashtra, at the IFOWS 2005, Mumbai. Flamingo wines from the Holkar Estate come from Vinchur, in the Niphad taluka of District Nashik while the Blue Star winery is located 30 km north of Pune on the Narayangaon- Pune road, fairly close to Ch Indage.
Flamingo has been promoted by the wine- grape grower Jagdish Holkar using his own grapes from the nearby Lassaon village. Vinification is being done in the Wine Park set up by MIDC in Vinchur. He is growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel,Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc in about 60 acres of land. ‘We are making an interesting blend of SB and CL also', he informed me. ‘I know marketing is not very easy but we intend to constantly improve our quality and keep the prices very reasonable to create demand for our wines', he said. The wines are being priced around Rs. 350, the same level as Sankalp but 15-12% cheaper than Sula. Sauvignon Blanc tasted was quite clean, crisp and full of floral aromas and citric flavours.
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Blue Star has been promoted by a group of technocrats and management experts, using Italian machinery. Mr. Kalan Katare (Chairman), Vijay Munde (MD) and Milind Ugalmugale (Director - marketing) are behind this winery. Although they have their own vineyards, they are planning to get the grapes from the contract growers in the short-term. ‘The company may not have exactly the same macro climate of Nashik valley and its terroir but the Sahyadari valley slopes have a positive effect on the ripening of grapes', said Milind Ugalmugale. ‘Our wines will be kept under Rs. 350 with even cheaper brands selling for about Rs. 100 using table grapes for mass consumption,' he added.
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As has become the de facto standard of measuring the winery capacity and storage of wines in this region, all wine s will be stored at 10-14 deg C in stainless steel tanks produced in or around Nashik. Bottling will be the ‘last mile connection' and will be done just prior to shipments. And though the tank holding capacity may be about 1.5 lakh litres for both the wine ries, actual production and shipment will be done on demand basis; both are planning on the sale of 40, 000 cases each on a yearly basis.
Of course, time will tell when and how much of the wine s produced will be absorbed by the market. More new wine ries (4-5) are on the anvil and another 10-12 slated for entry next year. Mr. Ravish Ahuja of Kiara Wines, an old hat as a supplier of wine and refrigeration equipment with his own portfolio of imported wine s and tankfuls of the Maharashtra wine s advises caution.' The growers have no doubt, an extensive knowledge of grape-growing but unless they resort to some sound integrated marketing approach, they might find the going very rough, especially in the early years due to strong competition from established vintners like Sula,' he warned