The wine industry in India has been booming the past few years. More wineries, more wine drinkers, and more global names have turned this intoa space where young Indians could find a lucrative career. The Good City crew spoke to a few such people, to explore options people could look at ifwine is their true passion.
Akshay Baboo, Winemaker at Domaine des Onglous
Akshay Baboo would tell you that he began his career at the age of six when he tried to turn the grapes his mother had bought into wine. The inspiration came from a TV show, and he was hooked right at that age. So when it came time to pick a career, he chose to reject his IIT acceptance, and follow his passion for wine making instead.
His formal experience started with an internship with Grover Vineyards at the age of 18. He went on to do the Vinifera Euromaster, a programme conducted by a consortium of European universities. He spent his first year in Bordeux, France, and the second at the University of Torino, Italy.
Baboo's story could be a book by itself. From working in relative isolation for an eccentric winemaker on 100 acres of vineyard in South of France, to tasting wine that had been salvaged from the Titanic, this Bengaluru boy from a conservative family has seen it all. He is one of the few Indian oenologists recognised by the Govt of France. Currently, he is a winemaker at Domaine des Onglous, a 400-acre vineyard, which had been abandoned for four centuries. It even has a castle in it!
Baboo's advice to aspiring Indian wine makers is to get international exposure before working in India, since it is still a nascent market for wine making.
Misha Dave – Founder, The Polished Thief
While working at a hectic job with the Canadian Government for over 12 years, Misha Dave became interested in wine appreciation as a way of slowing down and practicing mindfulness.
When she moved to India three years ago, she was hosting informal wine dinners, wine parties, and planning events for friends. Her passion for wine drove her to start her own wine, beverages, gourmet and luxury related Brand Management and Marketing consultancy, The Polished Thief. The company curates experiences, manages brands, and helps international and domestic brands get established in India.
Amongst other things, Dave is currently designing an experiential wine retail shop/bar. She is also working as the Brand Ambassador for Riedel, a prestigious 300-year-old Austrian wine glass company, to market their high-end glasses in the Indian market.
Her tip to young people interested in the wine business is to align themselves with a variety of sectors and leverage other skills in addition to wine knowledge, such as marketing, sales, and event planning. Options in the industry are diverse and include wine journalism, training, and curation/design of menus for hospitality.
Shruthi Mannar, Site Events & Wine Communications Executive at Moët Hennessy
For Shruti Mannar, the passion for wine came from a source very close to her heart. It was part of every Sunday lunch with the family where her father would talk extensively about the wine that they were drinking that day.
When she decided to pursue a master's degree, she jumped at the opportunity to do a Masters in Wine Management from Burgundy School of Business, Dijon, France. She later went on to pursue her Wine & Spirit Education Trust certification at the International Wine Center - New York.
Mannar feels there is a huge potential for a career in the Indian wine industry. The present market growth in India for wines is hovering around the 25% range year-on-year. Today there are close to 50 wineries. In addition, a large number of importers are bringing some of the best winesto the country, widening the taste, experience, and knowledge of wine amongst consumers.
"This growth in the wine business gives an opportunity for wines as a career," Mannar adds.