You may be surprised to learn that India’s wine consumption is increasing. In fact, according to recent statistics, there are now 10 million Indians who drink wine regularly, and the wine consumption rate increased in India by 29% in 2022 alone. Furthermore, according to an India Wine Insider (IWI) report, India’s wine market is now estimated to be valued at $238 million.
And no one knows this better than Sonal C Holland, the first Master of Wine from India. Indeed, Sonal has established her own successful wine academy in India, which is called the Sonal Holland Wine Academy.
“Being the first and only Master of Wine in India has given me the opportunity to use my knowledge and understanding of wine and the international wine markets to launch business initiatives in India that align with global standards. It thrills me that I have done a lot of pioneering work in the wine industry of a country that is the third largest alcohol beverage market in the world and the fastest growing one for wine,” Sonal said.
Sonal is also a wine social media celebrity, with half a million followers across various social media platforms, where she demystifies wines and introduces Indian consumers to wine culture and etiquette, making it seem more approachable. In addition, she manages SoHoWines Consulting LLP, a company that helps wine brands to enter and gain a strong foothold in India while offering Indian consumers a chance to indulge in the global wine culture.
Wine Imported To India – Including From California
In addition to increasing wine consumption and knowledge, India is also importing more wine. Part of this has to do with a 50% decrease in excise duty taxes on imported alcohol, from 300% to 150% in 2021. Other countries, like Australia, have established economic cooperation and trade agreements with India that have significantly brought down the import tax on wine – from 150 percent to 75 percent – thus making them more affordable.
According to Sonal, “Wines from Australia, Chile, Italy and France are among the top four destinations imported in India. However, wines from New World countries like the U.S. are likely to gain popularity in years to come due to competitive pricing strategies and experiential marketing efforts to gain brand recall and loyalty among Indian consumers.”
Recently, Sonal partnered with California Wine Institute to bring the Capstone California Certification Program to India for the first time. The program was launched in May of this year, and since that time, more than 550 Indian professionals have been certified in California wine. The course includes information on California wine regions, grape-growing practices, major wineries and legendary winemakers. Students also have a chance to taste wine from California.
“The huge participation that this program is seeing proves that there is a growing curiosity among Indian professionals and consumers about California wines. The success of this collaboration is a great example of how wine education initiatives like this can be beneficial to both professionals working in the Indian wine market and exporters who want to enter it,” she said.
Growing Number Of Wineries In India
But India also has its own wine industry, with the majority of the wineries located in and around the city of Nashik in the western state of Maharashtra. The region is situated at an altitude of 565 meters (1853 feet), and this elevation creates a moderating effect on the climate. The days here are hot and sunny, giving the wine grapes a high concentration of sugar and tannins. Meanwhile, cool nights ensure that the grapes retain their acidity.
The largest winery is Sula Vineyards, which not only sells wine in India but exports to many other countries around the world. Other large players in the Indian wine industry are Grover Zampa Vineyards and Fratelli Wines. There are also international wineries that have established operations in India, such as Chandon-India, the large sparkling wine producer headquartered in France.
Financial forecasts for the wine market in India are quite positive. According to Business Insider, wine in India is expected to grow at 10 percent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in volumes between 2022 and 2027.
Sonal is extremely optimistic about the future of the wine industry in India. “Not only is our wine consumption going up, so is the thirst for wine knowledge. Wine is the new media symbol of success, sophistication, and romance in India, making it a mainstream beverage in the country.”