Vivek Chandramohan, Chief Executive Officer, Grover Zampa Vineyards, outlines the company plans as it expands in India and internationally.
What are the new developments happening at Grover Zampa?
We have fortified our capacities and we will continue to innovate and introduce new wines tailored to suit the Indian palate. Also, in the offing is investment on new land to build a state-of-the-art Winery in Bangalore. We have also expanded our international footprint by venturing into newer markets and are exploring newer opportunities. For starters, the recent investment by Grover Zampa’s stakeholders of Chateau d’Etroyes is a matter of great pride for us. We are the first Indian winery to have claimed stake at a French winery, situated in the very heart of France – Burgundy. Our unison aims to bring together the best of both the regions, by combining Burgundy’s traditions of winemaking with India’s fresh wine making approach and unique terroir. With this alliance, we hope to help Indian wine aficionados discover the elegance and sophistication of burgundies while allowing the transfer of knowledge between the nations for their mutual benefit. Furthermore, owing to quality of our wines and our incessant efforts to create unparalleled experiences, we are now associated with Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, a Michelin 3-star restaurant in Paris along with many other Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. In terms of distribution, we are already exported to 22 plus countries and are working vehemently to increase this number.
Is there any new philosophy used for the production of wines?
Our wineries are operated by qualified winemaker Mathias Pelissard with expert consultation given by Michel Rolland and his team and Simon Robertson renowned viticulturist. The philosophy of production of wines in the vineyard remains very focused on adapting and fine tuning each wine during the growing season. We ensure that there is a rigid temperature control for both heating and cooling during all phases of grape processing, wine production and storage. The prime importance is given to the vineyard site. Its location, climate, soil, aspect, drainage, air movement, fog, row direction, training methods and most important the vineyardist’s desire to create quality fruit to make wines which are true reflection of their grape varietal and terroir. Broadly speaking here are the basic steps for making a wine: Harvest the grapes; Crush the grapes; Ferment the grapes into wine; Age the wine and Bottle the wine. During harvesting white grapes are usually picked first followed by red varietals. At Grover Zampa Vineyards, they are hand harvested rather than harvested by a machine. At the next stage, they are hand sorted on sorting tables to ensure we use the best grapes and then destemmed and lightly crushed by a machine. At this stage, the grapes for white wine (most frequently white grapes) are crushed by a press and the juice extracted leaving behind the skin. The juice is then put into tanks to allow the sediment to settle and then racked which means that the sediment is left behind and they are put into a new tank for fermentation. For red wine, after the red grapes are lightly crushed and destemmed they go straight into the tank for fermentation with skins included, which are instrumental in giving red wines their colour, tannins and richer flavour. Yeast is added in the tank for both red and white wines to allow fermentation to take place. Red wines are racked i.e. sedimentation removed after the fermentation has taken place. In terms of ageing the wine, there are multiple options. They can be aged for months or years and can be aged in stainless steel tanks or in a variety of different barrels e.g. French oak, American oak, used, toasted etc. The way that they are aged imparts different flavours to the wine.Once they have been aged, they are bottled. At Grover Zampa, the grapes are processed in a cooling room. We have controlled cellars equipped with modern resources such as temperature controlled tanks and our own bottling lines. This ensures that the quality remains uncompromised throughout the winemaking process. Winemaking is done in different tanks according to the different kinds of grape and the plot of land where the grape has come from in order to respect the specificity of each terroir. Most of the wine processing equipment and tanks are imported, mainly from Italy, which is known for being one of the best manufacturers of stainless steel cellar equipment.
How are the wines faring in the export market?
We have wines of various quality, styles and price points to satisfy the diverse demands of the Indian and International patrons of our wines. Our vision has always been to be known as the finest winemaker of India, which is translated into the efficacious wine making processes undertaken by us to ensure that our wines are always of top quality. Currently, our wines are exported to over 22 countries with the biggest markets being France, Japan, USA, Germany and UK. As a result of this commitment to quality, Grover Zampa Vineyards won 111 international grand awards for 13 wines, from 7 competitions, across 3 continents. In 2017 alone, Grover Zampa Vineyards won 21 awards at many prestigious events including the Decanter Asia Wine & Spirits Awards and the Hong Kong International Wines and Spirits Fair.
What is the total production premium wine per annum?
Grover Zampa has seen a tremendous growth in super premium and premium wines as people trade up within the category. This is a trend consistent with other alcohol categories where, for example in whisky, single malts have been seeing much higher growth then their cheaper blended counterparts. Super premium wines (wines priced at around `2000 and above) have seen around a 45% growth rate in the last year alone and continue to grow at a higher pace this year. The volume of premium wine in India currently stands at around 25 million bottles according to IWSR data (2015-2016), with Indian wine making up 75% of this volume although imported wines are gaining share. Within this category red wine dominates making up over 60% of the volume sold – being more suited to the rich and aromatic Indian cuisine. Unlike other alcohol categories, wine is bought equally by men and women, perhaps as a result of the widely held belief that wine is a healthier and more sophisticated option to other beverages. And contrary to popular belief the 25-34 age group are picking up wine as frequently as other age groups – again perhaps the result of wine’s prominence in popular culture. As of now, Premium wine is seeing good growth rates of around 10%, the highest growth of any alcohol category, but there are huge opportunities to increase this even further by exposing a youthful emerging middle class to wine and its many benefits. The total Wine production according to ASSOCHAM has reached 21 million litres from 17 million litres.
How do you view the Indian market’s prospects?
The wine industry in India has witnessed an upward progression in terms of both sales and popularity (between 10 and 15% per year). This growth has been fostered by factors such as the country’s growing affluence and increase in abroad travel that has invariably exposed Indians to the international wine scene. Of this growth, Grover Zampa Vineyards hold a significant share as the second largest winery in India and the most highly regarded brand in terms of qualitative, premium wines. Most recently, there has been a visible spike in growth of super-premium wines in India – those priced at around `2000 and above, as people trade up. According to our statistics, this category has grown by 45% in the last year which is great news for us as we focus mainly on premium wines and have two wines that fit in this category. Chêne Grande Reserve priced at around `1900 and Insignia – our single vineyard wine – which is priced at `6000 for a magnum and is only available to buy at our vineyards or to select private customers. While there was a slow-down last year because of the highway ban, the outlook this year seems robust and should continue on either 15% or higher growth rates overall.
Have you considered getting into brandy?
At this point we will stay with wine production.
What style of wines are most popular in India?
When talking of wines that are most popular I would say that the super premium wines are gaining popularity, rose is seeing growth as well. But when it comes to the growth in sales most of the premium wine sells in the Art Collection range. Prosecco and similar style of wines are also making inroads and growing rapidly in sparkling wine category. Keeping that in mind Grover Zampa will be launching something very unique in the sparkling wine range this year.