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Grover Zampa explores wine’s new rule book

Grover Zampa gets a millennial makeover that includes a contemporary visitor centre in Bengaluru, private chalets in Nashik, and carbonated wine in a can

At the newly-launched Lounge de La Réserve in Grover Zampa’s winery just outside of Bengaluru, glass walls offer a view of a koi pond. Hidden speakers play jazz renditions of pop songs by Sia, Ed Sheeran and Billie Eilish.

Isn’t this the kind of Instagrammable experience, one that doesn’t skimp on quality, that India’s millennials want? Well, that’s what India’s oldest, most-awarded, most premium, and second-largest wine producer seems to have figured out. In a quest to woo this generation (ages 22 to 37), Grover is transforming into a lifestyle brand, says chairman Ravi Viswanathan. Last Saturday saw the plans set in motion at their Doddaballapur winery, with the launch of an upgraded cellar door and tasting room. An adjoining restaurant will serve Indian and continental fare, with suggested wine pairings.

Satisfying everyone

The brand will also be entering the ready to drink (RTD) segment shortly. This includes wine in a can, usually bubbly or rosé, a popular concept in the US. “Purists will say that this is not wine — which is true. Take Bacardi Breezer, which is a popular gateway drink. We’ll do something natural, with grapes, no chemicals,” explains Viswanathan. The hope is that these consumers will eventually graduate to a fine red, and so on.

Grover Zampa explores wine’s new rule book

These plans do not mean Grover has forgotten their roots. The launch of three new wines is meant to fortify their premium category. At the same time, lines like the Art Collection will be touched by change. “It won’t be just paintings on the label anymore; art can mean a lot of things,” says Viswanathan mysteriously.

Innovate all day

While there is an international demand for low alcohol, low sulphur, organic and vegan wines, CEO Vivek Chandramohan explains that they are a few years away from bringing it to the market. There is hope yet — 20 years ago, people in China were drinking red wine with Coca Cola; now, they are a $94 billion industry. “We need to allow evolution to happen while we do our work in the background,” he says.

Grover is not new to innovation. They were the first in India to cultivate the temperamental Viognier. The varietal experimentation continues, says Viswanathan, because, “People are tired of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and their combinations. We’re now growing Spanish, Italian and French grapes, and a Georgian varietal called Saperavi.” Their first Riesling is also in the works — scheduled for Diwali.

Say it with chalets

As they cater to a young, entry-level market, those with more spending power are being lured with experiences. About 20 minutes away on the Nandi Hills, work is currently on to build a 125 acre resort. The ambitious project will have approximately 200 rooms, a vinotherapy spa, and state-of-the-art winery. Viswanathan also mentions a line of skincare and cosmetics, made with Grover grapes.

Meanwhile, in their Nashik winery, Chandramohan has been working with Bengaluru-based RAW Architect to create 15 all-glass, ultra-premium chalets. “We’re focussed on having a reduced carbon footprint. There will also be a non-chlorine, natural water swimming pool,” he says.

Wine tourism is not a new concept in the country: Fratelli has contemporary guesthouses in their Motewadi winery, while Sula has the luxury SkyVilla in Gangapur. So it’s surprising that in close to 30 years of existence, this is the first time Grovers is moving into hospitality. Chandramohan says it’s not too late. “The board is now more open and conducive to understanding the present needs and the future prospects of the industry. Rome wasn’t built in a day; we’re working on sustained marketing to make it work,” he concludes.

Not by the book

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