Premium is the Benchmark

With an increasing number of well-travelled youngsters now shifting their alcoholic beverage preferences to wine, this segment of the industry is witnessing a notable uptick in its production, distribution and retail through modernised stores. As Uma Chigurupati, Director, KRSMA Estates Pvt. Ltd. points out, there is great potential for Indian wines in the years to come.

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Premium is the Benchmark

Taking note of the evolution in the world of wines, a company like KRSMA Estates has focused its marketing strategy on educating its customers and patrons about wine and its varieties. "Despite the growing interest in wines, there is a deficit in understanding the liquid, how terroir or geography affects the wine's output, the varietals, the food pairings, things to know and take care of, etc. We have therefore taken it upon ourselves to democratise the wine experience and demystify the world of wines and make it approachable," says Uma Chigurupati.

With a presence in the Indian wine market since 2011, KRSMA has its boutique winery based out of Koppal, near Hampi in Karnataka. It has its signature Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc available in Bengaluru and Telangana. In the Indian wine segment, one thing is clear - premiumisation is what is holding sway. There is a reason for that. With many Indian consumers now being avid globetrotters, they are becoming more discerning in their preference for wines. As with other product categories in India, imported wines are favoured over domestic wines. But KRSMA has undertaken to reverse the trend.

"Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are still the largest sold varietals in India. Recent Chilean and Argentinian wines have made Malbec a sought-after varietal but the old favourites closely guard the mantle," points out Uma.

Rosy Hues and Healthy Cues

Red wine rules the roost when it comes to India. Uma informs that around 49 percent of all wines sold in India are red. More than white, wine connoisseurs say that rosé is gaining popularity. According to the wine entrepreneur, not only are the imports of wine to India seeing more rosé brands, even domestic wine players like Sula are focusing on this segment of wines.

"Globally (including India), wine has gained acceptance over the years owing to the health benefits it extends and for being the cleanest alcoholic beverage among the available alternatives. Compared to whisky or white liquor, wine has only 12-14 percent alcohol. Again, unlike other forms of hard liquor, we encourage pairing our wine with food which makes it more acceptable and palatable," Uma explains.

KRSMA is a classical wine brand. "We have stayed true to the ethos of making a world-class wine," Uma states. Given these particulars, the company has set its target on a slightly mature audience who have evolved in their appreciation of fine wine either through their travel or through sheer exposure. Meanwhile, younger audiences are getting drawn to this category more than ever.

Wine Tourism Matters

"Wine tourism is a phenomenon that has recently picked up steam in India. Brands like Sula and Fratelli have set up hospitality divisions to extract from this trend. It is a way forward as it opens up a whole new way of experiencing wines; not only in their prime environment but also in a manner that demystifies the liquid and makes it so much more approachable," Uma observes.
According to Uma, when consumers interact with wine growers and understand the journey cycle from fruit to wine and the effort that goes behind making a great wine, they become more accepting of the fact that premium wines do come at a cost.

Retail Makes the Difference

Consumers are heavily tilting towards stores that offer experience and have a great assortment of liquor across categories. Wine being an experiential liquid definitely finds a higher traction in modern experiential stores. Needless to say, these modern outlets have a better collection too, on an average, which spoils the customer silly by choice. "Private operators bring in the much-needed experience that is missing from traditional retail or government-run stores. In the case of KRSMA, almost 70-80 percent of our retail sales comes from modernised stores," informs Uma. Wine retailing also includes the way wine is packaged or bottled.

Unlike the west where wine consumption is high and wines are available in tetra packs, kegs and pouches, innovation in wine packaging in India is limited to wine in cans.

KRSMA Sav blanc

As the category is still nascent, packing formats would require sizable capital expenditure which may not generate the much-needed return on investment. While 250 ml cans and 375 ml bottles have made the wine category more accessible, it certainly hasn't built a case for itself that would see an industry-wide adoption.

Take a Bow, Karnataka

Uma views that when it comes to the matter of which state in India is more favourably tilted to wine distribution and sales, it is Karnataka.

KRSMA Estates home state has a very conducive wine policy. "The state has always been very supportive of its brands," Uma says. Karnataka is the only state with an active Wine Board that supports its local wine manufacturing and bottling companies wholeheartedly and represents them in wine related events and exhibitions throughout the country. 

With a presence in the Indian wine market since 2011, KRSMA has its boutique winery based out of Koppal, near Hampi in Karnataka. It has its signature Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc available in Bengaluru and Telangana.