Sula Vineyards crushed a total of over 9,000 tonnes of wine grapes in FY 2019-20, which is about 50% more than what was crushed by the company in FY 2018-19. According to the company, this was possible due to a decent monsoon and following conducive weather conditions for cultivating wine grapes. These figures are expected to help Sula cross its own record-breaking 2018 sales, over 1 million cases world-wide.
Chief Winemaker, Senior Vice President – Vineyard and Winery Operations Karan Vasani elaborated on the Harvest events: “This year, the distribution amongst the varietals was around 55% of red variety grapes and 45% of white grapes crushed. Most of the grapes are crushed and processed in Nashik and Southern parts of Maharashtra although some harvesting and crushing are also done in Karnataka for the wines to be made and sold in Karnataka by Sula Vineyards under its brand Kadu.”
While 2019 was positive for grape-growing conditions, the weather may be indicative of the impacts of climate change. The harvest was slightly delayed this year, starting in mid-December and went on till the first week of April.
“Wine-making is such an old process, the challenges will always be the weather,” explains Founder and CEO of Sula Vineyards Rajeev Samant. “Our planet is in danger and our priority needs to be our impact on the environment. There is lots of waste generated by the traditional production and crushing process. Instead, we use every part of the grape, from seed to skin. After the grape juice is extracted the seeds are used to make grapeseed oil and the remaining mulch becomes compost for our vines,” he explains. Sula Vineyards is committed to protecting India for the future by planting more and more trees.
Sula is also cultivating additional land across Maharashtra and Karnataka, giving a boost to the agri sector. Sula planted 360 acres in 2018 and will plant an additional 340 in 2019. This will take their total area under wine grape plantations to about 3000 acres which will also add to the rural employment numbers. Today, almost 510 farmers from Maharashtra and Karnataka are working with Sula with assured buy back contracts.
In general, Maharashtra saw a bumper grape harvest this season with figures from Nashik district, the heart of India’s grape region, crossing 1.43 lakh tonnes of grapes. About 2% of these grapes are wine grapes. However, except for 2017 when the highway liquor ban was put in motion, the Indian wine industry has recorded a steady growth in CAGR, which means that more and more Indians are drinking wine, in many cases switching away from hard liquor.