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“We owe our origin to Bangalore and it is one of the biggest markets for Grover Zampa” – Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO, Grover Zampa Vineyards

Sumedh Singh Mandla is a well known name in the wine and Food & Beverage industry in India and has over 21 years of experience in FMCG, Hospitality and Food & Beverage Industry.

Sumedh was among first 5 Indians to be facilitated as the “Commanderie du Bontemps”, at “Fete de la Fleur 2007’ at Château Smith Haut Lafitte – Pessac Léognan (Graves) organized by the most famous wine fraternity in Bordeaux. He is a certified trainer involved in Food & Beverage education and a regular contributor in several Trade and Consumer publications.

Sumedh Singh Mandla in an interview with Suman Prasad spoke in length about his journey, Great Grover Wine Festival, Grover Vineyards and the new products being launched this year, Grover’s best selling wines and what makes them special, emerging trend this wine season and many other interesting things.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Please share your journey so far. What drew you to wine making?

I have been in Food & Beverage industry for 22 years now. While working for Marriott International, I spent some time in Australia and visited several wineries. This got me more close to wine and I moved to the beverage industry in 2005.

Q. How did the concept of ‘Great Grover Wine Festival’ come into picture? What does Grover Vineyards tend to achieve from this festival? How do you plan to make GGWF bigger and better next year?

Great Grover Wine Festival was conceived due to the fact that Karnataka is our origin and also the largest market for us. This platform will grow the consumer base and shall bring wine lovers in Karnataka closer to our brand. The vision is to reach 10, 000 attendees in 5 to 7 years horizon. Our current facility cannot accommodate such numbers thus a convenient, premium and larger venue was considered. We had over 2000 guests in its 2nd edition and we are happy with the progress.

Q. Please tell us something about Grover Vineyards? Any new products that you would be launching this year?

Started in 1988, Grover Zampa is the Indian pioneer and most awarded wine producer and the only wine producer with winery and vineyards in 2 locations – Nashik and Nandi Hills close to Bangalore.

Grover Zampa is the leading exporter of fine wines from India with exports to more than 22 countries, top 5 markets include: France, Japan, UK, USA and Australia.

Grover Zampa has won 57 International Awards since September 2013 and we are the only Indian winery to have wines rated by famous Robert Parker.

Our Zampa Soiree range of sparkling wine is the only sparkling wine from India to win medals at international competition and it is the most awarded range of sparkling wine. Grover Zampa boasts the largest range of Reserve Wines. Grover Zampa’s La Reserve was rated as the best new world red wine by Steven Spurrier of Decanter Magazine in 2005 at a tasting in Germany.

Also, we are the only winery from India to have its wine listed in Michelin 3 star restaurant l’Aperge in Paris.

Q. Please share the range of products available in the market along with their prices.

We offer bouquet of 34 wines in our portfolio. The key range includes: Chene Grand Reserve , Soiree Sparkling range , Vijay Amritraj Reserve Collection , La Reserve , Art Collection , Zampa Premium range , One Tree Hill , Sante’ and Raya. The range varies from INR 1850 to 400.

Q. Which is Grover’s best selling wine? What makes it special?

La Reserve Collection is the first and most loved premium wine brand for India. It is a Bordeaux style blend that was launched in 1998. Since its launch, La Reserve has won numerous international and domestic awards and hearts of wine lovers in India, and in over 20 countries.

Q. How does it feel to be among first 5 Indians to be facilitated as the “Commanderie du Bontemps”, at “Fete de la Fleur 2007”? Please share the experience. How did you achieve this?

It was a great honor and privilege to be facilitated as the “Commanderie du Bontemps”. I was part of imported wine & spirits industry for 8 years. During this period, I worked extensively towards growing French wines especially from the Bordeaux region in the Indian sub-continent.
It is a great marketing tool used by this Bordeaux community to promote Bordeaux wines and to grow base of their brand ambassadors across the globe.

Q. How has the Indian wine industry changed in the last five years? How do you see this industry evolving in next 2-3 years?

Wine awareness and culture is growing across the country. Wine palate of Indian consumer is refining and they have starting to differentiate between good quality and average wines. They are better aware of wine regions, wine styles, grapes, special vintages, health benefits, wine and food pairing etc. With the growing quality and interest in Indian wines, the segment has potential to grow over 20% over the next decade.

Q. What do you think about the taste and love for wine of Bangaloreans?

We owe our origin to Bangalore and it is also one of the biggest markets for Grover Zampa. Since 1988 when we started our facilities in Nandi Hills, we have worked closely with Food & Beverage trade and influencers to educate the market and at the same time to learn from their experience and preference. The palate for wine lovers in Bangalore is constantly developing thus we are working harder to offer variety and complex structured premium wines in our portfolio.

Q. Is there anything you would like to change about the city’s tastes? What would that be?

We would like to see more consumers evolving from drinking just beer and spirits to try and appreciate wines. Also, would like to see faster conversion of port wine drinkers to premium fruit wines.

Q. Are we seeing any emerging trends in the current wine season?

Premium wine segment has shown over 20% growth in Karnataka market in this fiscal, which is a very robust trend.

Q. When not drinking Grover wines, what are some of your favorites?

Wine is a passion and I keep experimenting with new varietals and regions. I love whites especially Rieslings, Gewürztraminers and new world style Sauvignon Blancs. Among reds some of my favorites reds include Pinot Noirs, Right bank Bordeaux’s, Brunello and Borolo.

Q. What is your favorite food and wine pairing?

There is a big list of my favorites pairings, some of which include Seekh kebab with La Reserve Red, Borolo with roast lamb, Brunello di Montalcino with Peking Duck, Burgundy Pinots with Rabbit stew or grilled scallops, Off dry German Riesling with Pork Stir fry, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with Grilled seafood .

Q. If you could share a wine with anyone, who would it be?

Wine is for sharing with family and friends. More the merrier.

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