Sham Chougule and his Indage companies are important for having been central to developing the current era of wine production in India. The first Indage vineyard was established in 1979 at Narayangaon in the Sahyadri valley with French varietals. In 1982 Champagne Indage was formed to produce sparkling wine for export, utilising technical assistance from Piper-Heidsieck. Their first wine – Omar Khayyam – was launched in 1986 to generally positive critical acclaim, and won several international awards in competition. By 1988 Indage was able to sell in the Indian domestic market and soon established a range of red and white table wines.
In an effort to expand, in 1995 Indage began importing cheap bulk wine from California’s Central Valley and bottling it under their own brand name. This caused confusion amongst consumers, many of whom were purchasing in the belief that they were about to taste Indian wine. Nonetheless, at the beginning of the 21st Century Indage had the largest share of the Indian wine market and had become a listed company on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Much of its production of ca.100,000 cases was based on bulk wine or grape juice imported from other countries.
Further expansion soon followed as the company went on a buying frenzy in Australia (Tandou winery; VinCrest winery; Loxton) and the UK (Darlington Wines) racking up huge amounts of debt in the process. The international financial crisis of 2008 played a role in the company’s financial difficulties and in 2010 the Mumbai High Court issued an order for the winding up of Indage Vintners. Their shares were delisted from the Mumbai stock exchange in March 2011.
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