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Asia-Pacific

Why Nashik is the wine capital of India

media A view of the vineyards around Sula winery in Nashik. Dhananjay Khadilkar

Nashik has long been known as one of the three locations for Kumbh Mela, a religious event that witnesses the largest congregation of Hindus. However, over the past decade or so, the city of 1.4 million, which is located 190 km north of Mumbai, has earned a new distinction of being the wine capital of India.

That’s because almost half of India’s wineries are located in Nashik. The reason why Nashik has attracted so many wine entrepreneurs is because it has a favourable climate for growing grapes. Located at an altitude of 700 metres above the sea level, Nashik has an ideal temperature variation, particularly in winters, that helps grapes retain acidity and optimal sugar levels.

Among the wineries, Sula stands out for not only pioneering the wine industry in Nashik and but also in India. Currently, it is India’s largest winery producing up to 1 million cases of wine every year.

Sula winery was established in 1999 after its founder decided to return to India following a stint in the Silicon Valley. The brand quickly established itself as the leading player in the Indian market. Currently, it has 65 per cent share in the premium wine segment.

The winery, which is located on the city outskirts, attracts plenty of visitors. It has state-of-the-art facilities which include 120 temperature controlled tanks whose capacity ranges from 500 litres to 80,000 litres.

They are used for fermentation process as well as storage of wine. Wine is also aged in oak barrels at the facility. There are 1300 such barrels made of French and American Oak. Most of Sula’s top red wines get aged in these barrels as they softens the tanins of the wine besides giving a flavor. Sula produces up to 1 million cases of wine every year.

Sula exports between 10 to 15 per cent of its wine to 27 markets all over the world.
Despite the impressive growth of the wine industry in India over the past decade, wine consumption in India continues to remain low.

On an average, around 0.013 litre of wine is consumed per year per person in India which is minuscule when compared to some of the European countries where this figure is around 40 litres.

Perhaps, keeping in mind this trend, some of the wineries in Nashik have adopted the strategy of focusing on exports. One such brand is Soul Tree which produces 150,000 bottles of wine every year, all of which is sold in the overseas market.

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