Elite Vintage Winery: Past Achievements, Future Plans

Karnataka’s wineries have been attracting a good deal of attention lately what with Grover Vineyards’ tie up with Vallée de Vin, KRSMA Estates winning critical acclaim for their wines, and the high profile launch of SDU Winery. Yet working quietly in the background, the Elite Vintage Winery looks as if it could well be one of the players shaping the future of wine in Karnataka.

Elite-development-plansMD Vinod Guraddi and the other members of Elite’s management team have already proven themselves by meeting a series of tough deadlines in order to bring first wine to market in 2009.  This was achieved in part by technical assistance from market-leader Sula Wines and it’s good to see different players sharing their knowledge and expertise.  Ultimately the free exchange of such information can only be good for the industry as a whole as it seeks to raise standards and improve efficiency.

Elite-wine-productionThe initial winery capacity of 430 thousand litres was expanded to 730 thousand litres in 2011 and there are plans to add additional capacity next year.  This has allowed the winery to ramp up production which it is hoped will break the 0.5 million litres mark in 2013-14.

Elite-dispatch-to-marketElite’s wines are currently only available in Karnataka, but their marketing efforts have enabled them to record significant year-on-year increases in dispatch to market.  Shipments to the Karnataka market totalled just over 60 thousand cases in 2012-13.

The excess that has occurred between production and dispatch to market has been considerably alieviated by the ongoing relationship with Sula Wines.  Sula has shown great confidence in Elite by purchasing bulk wine from them which has then been utilised in Sula products sold in Karnataka. 

Elite-Wine-bottlesWines marketed under the Elite label should soon become more widespread as they are already registered to retail in Andhra Praesh and have plans to register in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.  Prices have been fixed at a number of different price points in an attempt to attract a broad range of consumers.  Current prices are Rs100, Rs160, Rs280, Rs380 and Rs480.

There are now a number of other wineries based in northern Karnataka (Nisarga, Hampi Heritage, Krishna Valley, Rico) as well as those based further south.  With the domestic market not expanding as fast as some had predicted, and unsold wine remaining in tanks, it’s doubtful that a number of these will escape another industry shakeout.  Elite-Winery-2a Elite’s backers appear to recognise that success in the wine business is a long haul process and have confidently drawn up plans for a future winery.  An attractive building coupled with visitor facilities would certainly be a welcome addition to the Krishna Valley wine region.

Indian Wine: Production, Imports and Exports

The Indian wine market – for both domestic production and imports – has expanded considerably over the past decade. Precise industry figures are not easy to come by as there is, as yet, no official compilation of wine statistics for India. Not surprisingly, different sources seem to quote slightly different figures and sometimes appear to interchange production with sales.

Arguably the most reliable published information is that produced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of their Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN). Their 2012 Wine Market Update for India (pdf) was compiled utilising state excise data and combining this with various local industry reports and estimates. While not perfect, this compilation has the advantage of having produced historical figures on a consistent basis. It ought, therefore to reasonably accurately show the overall industry trends.

The growth of Indian wine production, imports and exports is shown here utilising the USDA GAIN compilation. Production appears to have peaked in 2010 at about 130,000 hl. Until then farmers had been increasingly setting aside land for the production of wine grapes. A poor harvest in 2009, coupled with a buildup of inventory at the wineries, caused many farmers to give up on wine grapes altogether as the industry underwent a painful period of restructuring. Exports have struggled to exceed more than about 10% of production as Indian wines compete unfavouably price-wise with New World competitors.

Wine imports into India dipped sharply after 2008 due to the combined effects of the gobal financial crisis and a drop-off in tourism following the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. Since 2009 wine imports have continued to rise, reaching a high of 44,000 hl in 2011, despite the prevailing 150% federal tariff. France, Italy and Australia are the main wine exporters to India and together constitute over 50% of wine imports. The EU is attempting to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with India which, if successful, would radically favour imports of EU wines over other producing countries. It would also put enormous pressure on domestic wine producers who are still dealing with their own problems of oversupply and disttribution.

Article courtesy of, and originally posted by winestats.info