Vijay Amritraj: A patron of Grover Wines

In a one on one interaction with Ambrosia, Vijay Amritraj talks about his association with the Grover family, the Vijay Amritraj label and how the company is planning to add 30 new international markets to its portfolio by the end of this fiscal year. Vijay Amritraj, a renowned name in the Indian and international tennis sports industry, having aced singles and doubles tennis matches during the span of his tennis career, has launched his label in association with Grover Zampa at a celebrity-packed Wimbledon themed party at St James’ Court, a Taj Hotel in London, during the Wimbledon fortnight in July, 2014. Amritraj wears many hats at the same time. He is a worldwide renowned tennis player, an actor as MI6 agent Vijay in John Glen’s James Bond Octopussy to launching his own wine label, he has addressed each assignment with panache. The Grover family and Amritraj being friends for more than a decade thought of launching Vijay Amritraj label. “Grover family and I have been friends for a long time and when they realised that the only liquor that I drink is wine because I never really acquired any taste for liquor is when Kapil Grover said that we need to develop a wine that firstly, you would like and secondly the one for which we can really kind of work with you to brand it. On the other hand, I agreed because as long as long as I am fully involved from day one for the making of this wine which is what we both decided; and as long as the grape is Indian. That’s when Kapil asked that why is that so important and I told him that when I played tennis for the first time and travelled the world nobody could really believe that a tennis player actually came out of India. And so till I proved myself to be one of the best in the world which is exactly what we are doing with the wines,” said Amritraj. “We started with a product where we actually worked together and develop it into something that I would actually drink. I endorsed two brands and both the brands are something that I have used from day 1 which had nothing to do with wine. And I think I wouldn’t like it to be called as an endorsement but I think it is more like a question of partnership where you actually use it, drive it wear it and it is something that you grow up with. So that’s the way you end up associating with a liquor brand and so people can see you in it you know,” stated Amritraj when questioned. He believes that whenever people talk about wines they frequently highlight wines made in France, Italy, Spain and Chile etc. He expressed, “With wine revolution coming in and the consumer engagement and awareness, Grover’s are trying to change that definition even for the world market by producing fine quality of wines. I am proud of the fact that this is something that I always wanted to do and it has been an enjoyable run to work with Sumedh Singh Mandla and the entire Grover family who make such interesting products. I think the design of the bottle is extremely well received and so the quality of wine speaks for itself. “It’s like going to a new restaurant. You can get people for the first time, but not for the second time unless they really like it,” he stated. As informed by Mandla, CEO, Grover Zampa Vineyards the company’s VA collection has been performing fairly positive in the French market, followed by United Kingdom and Japan. “We already have Vijay Amritraj wine now available in ten countries apart from India. In the initial response it has been doing very well, in the UK we have concluded two years of the introduction of this wine. Beside Japan and UK, USA and Germany has picked up the wine very well. I think these are initial days and wine takes a lot more time. By the time we reach next year end we will outreach atleast 20 new international markets. For a debut wine to win nine international awards in a span of 20 months is an achievement in itself,” said Amritraj. The company aims to grow their business 20-30% yearly, expecting an equivalent growth from their international portfolio. Therefore, they are looking forward at opening in more countries with a target to outreach 30 new countries by the end of this fiscal year involving Eastern European countries, Africa, South East Asia, Canada and China considering Australia, New Zealand, and Japan as their exsiting top source markets. Vijay Amritraj Collection is available in almost all the cities starting from Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Pune, Mumbai, Kerala, Karnataka and many more. The product is placed in a super premium category for India and is retailing at about `1400 plus taxes (depending upon the market because excise duties are different in each state). This year the company is targetting more than 3000 cases of sale in domestic as well as in its international portfolio for both red and white wine segment. In terms of ratio between international and domestic sales they have about 20% of their sales to the international market for VA collection. “Roping in a renowned tennis celebrity player for our wine actually worked in our favour. He has been patronising Grover wines for more than 10 years now. We were looking for somebody who could take not only us, but take the industry ahead, and he has been endorsing the same ideology,” stated Mandla. – Palak Sharma

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